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Visit Us – James Farm Ecological Preserve

Looking west to Pasture Point on the beach at James Farm

Come visit the James Farm! 

The James Farm Ecological Preserve is an oasis of wild land on Indian River Bay, located just a short drive from Bethany Beach, Delaware on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View.

Address and Directions

From the sandy beach at low tide, you can walk through seven distinctive habitats; from the salty flats of the low marsh with its salt marsh cord grass and glasswort, through the shrubby high marsh with bayberry, marsh alder and salt marsh hay, into the shade of the loblolly pines, holly and red cedar of the maritime forest, into the deep shade of the hardwood forest under a canopy of southern red oak, hickory, sweet gum and sassafras, finally to emerge back into the sunshine in the meadows that were once farm fields.

Last year, the Preserve felt the footsteps of 10,000 visitors, many with their four-legged friends, and welcomed nearly a thousand students for a day of watershed education.

The James Farm Master Plan

Preserving the forest, marshes, beaches and wetlands AND accommodating the needs of a growing number of visitors is the challenge that led us to create a Master Plan for James Farm in 2014.
Learn more about this project here:

James Farm Fact Sheet

Full James Farm Master Plan

Presentation of the James Farm Master Plan


 The public is invited to visit the James Farm any day from sunrise to sundown, free of charge. Visitors are asked to carry out their trash. Pets are invited but should be leashed so that wildlife in the Preserve are not disturbed.


Teachers, homeschoolers, scout leaders! Plan a trip to James Farm!

We have developed activities for children Pre-school to 6th grade that are closely correlated with Delaware Science Content Standards and Performance Indicators…and they are fun!  Click here to view trip planning information and activities for your group.  If you are interested in bringing your group to James Farm for an outdoor learning experience contact Sally Boswell at 302.226-8105 or email at outreach@inlandbays.org

The History of James Farm

The 150-acre James Farm property was a gift to Sussex County from the late Mary Lighthipe, a descendant of the James family who had farmed the land for generations. She gave it in memory of her son, Harold, who died in an automobile accident. She gave it with the condition that the property be used for environmental education and recreational activities. Learn more about the history of James Farm.

In the fall of 1998, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays was asked by the County to manage the property. Since that time, the CIB has worked with volunteers and partners to create an ecological preserve. The preserve now features more than three miles of marked hiking trails, three observation platforms, a boardwalk beach crossing, wildflower gardens, an amphitheater, an informational kiosk, rest areas, and more than 4,000 trees purchased and planted in a USFWS Partners in Wildlife reforestation effort.

Your generous donations allow us to maintain the James Farm for visitors to enjoy. They also allow us to implement numerous restoration projects that benefit the wildlife in the area.

A freshwater wetland area has been created adjacent to the intersection of two of our trails. This should be a good spot to see deer, ducks, reptiles and amphibians. Stumps and a dead tree crag placed in the water to give variety and a head start to this created habitat. Next to the wetland is an observation blind for viewing wildlife. Because of the diversity of habitats and open space, the James Farm is an excellent location for birding, particularly during spring and fall migrations.

Every spring and fall, middle school students from the Indian River School District come to James Farm for a “hands on-waders on” day to learn about the health of the Inland Bays, plant zonation and adaptation, identifying wetlands & salt marsh food webs–building on the work that they are doing in their classroooms.

The Center for the Inland Bays holds the Gardening for the Bays Native Plant Sale in May. School programs are held at the James Farm in the spring and fall.

Click here
for information on guided Kayaking Adventure Tours of the Indian River Bay departing from James Farm. Tours focus on an educational discovery of Delaware’s Inland Bays.

Click here to view the Management Plan for the James Farm.

For more information about the James Farm Ecological Preserve, please contact the office of the CIB at 302-226-8105 or E-mail jamesfarm@inlandbays.org

View James Farm Ecological Preserve in a larger map

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