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What IS Environmental Justice? Explore the Basics and Solutions at the Center’s Upcoming Webinar with National Advocate Michele Roberts

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Rehoboth Beach, DE – The public is invited to join the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and guest speaker Michele Roberts, the National Co-Coordinator at the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA), to learn about local and national environmental justice issues and how people can get involved. The webinar will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23.

You’ve likely heard the term environmental justice before, but do you know what it means? And do you know what you can do to support the efforts to bring justice to communities unfairly facing environmental challenges? Ms. Roberts, a Wilmington, Delaware, native and long-time advocate for local communities overburdened by pollution, will explore the basics of environmental justice issues and offer some insight on how people can get more involved in the solutions.

“People are living in a constant state of stress. Stress and anxiety because of the fact that each and every day of their lives they are wondering ‘when might the next explosion be?’… These are not accidents. These are incidents, because most often times these (disasters) could have been prevented,” Michele Roberts says. “Today in our society, the way that regulation is set up, (is that) for certain people it is OK to be at risk. We need to change that and now is the time to make that happen.”

For over 25 years, Michele Roberts has provided capacity support, organizing, and technical assistance on the connections between chemicals management, oil and gas extraction, energy systems, and toxics exposure and legacy. Michele is the co-author of Who’s In Danger: Race, Poverty and Chemical Disasters and Life at the Fenceline: Understanding Cumulative Health Hazards in Environmental Justice Communities, a demographic analysis of vulnerability zones surrounding Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities. She also co-authored Environmental Justice for Delaware: Mitigating Toxic Pollution in New Castle County Communities

Michele Roberts now resides in Washington, D.C., and was recently appointed to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council under the Biden Administration. She has co-authored numerous other analyses, reports, commentaries, been published countless times in the press for her work, co-founded the Campaign for Healthier Solutions, created Arts Slams @ SsAMS, and is the environmental justice and environmental producer on Pacifica 89.3FM radio’s weekly “The On the Ground Show: Voices of Resistance.” 

This free event, which will be held on Zoom, is brought to you by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign. At the end of the webinar, there will be a live question and answer session.

The public and the press are invited to join the meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81457681342.

This event is part of a larger Water Warrior workshop series that is hosted by the Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice campaign, a statewide outreach and education effort focused on securing additional dedicated funding for clean water. The goal of this workshop series is to encourage citizens of Delaware to take an active role in protecting water quality in their state. Learn more about the campaign and other workshops at cleanwaterdelaware.org.

 

Event Details

WHAT: What IS Environmental Justice? webinar

WHO: Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Clean Water: Delaware’s Clear Choice Campaign, and Michele Roberts with the Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA)

WHERE: Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81457681342

WHEN: 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 23, 2021

WHY: Environmental justice is much more than a buzzword. The public can benefit from learning more about what environmental justice means, and what solutions are available for communities overburdened by pollution and industry.

MEDIA CONTACT: Maddy Goss, communications specialist, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays | communications@inlandbays.org or 302-858-7795

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed. Learn more at inlandbays.org

EJHA is a national network of grassroots environmental and economic justice organizations and advocates in communities that are disproportionately impacted by toxic chemicals from legacy contamination, ongoing exposure to polluting facilities and health-harming chemicals in household products. Learn more at EJ4all.org.

Collaborations Create Innovative Forest Wetland Project Near Frankford

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Frankford, Del. — A project to add native wetland vegetation that will restore natural habitat and improve water quality is taking root this month in Sussex County.

Environmental Concern, Inc., an environmental contractor based in Maryland, is completing the final plantings at an innovative restoration project along Burbage Road near Frankford, with some assistance from volunteers. The site includes two constructed freshwater wetlands that cover just under 2 acres, a nearly 2-acre native meadow habitat and about 7 acres of native hardwood forest on County owned-land.

An aerial view of the project gives a birds eye view of the newly installed wetland plants.

The project is a cooperative effort among the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Sussex County government and the Sussex Conservation District (SCD). The property, which covers a total of 20 acres next to Blackwater Creek, a tributary of Little Assawoman Bay, will no longer be used as fertilized cropland.

“We are honored to work with the Center for the Inland Bays on the design and construction of the Burbage Road water quality improvement project,” said SCD District Coordinator David Baird. “This project will provide an ideal habitat for native and migratory wildlife while improving the Inland Bays water quality by filtering nutrients and sediment.”

Sussex County, which owns the property and funded the effort, hopes to apply the restoration efforts to a stormwater credit program that is now under development.

Keenan Kramer, a restoration staff member with Environmental Concern, plants switchgrass along the edge of the wetland pond at the project site.

“The County appreciates our continued relationship with the Center for the Inland Bays, and this project highlights the benefits of our partnership,” said County Administrator Todd F. Lawson. “By restoring the County’s property to its natural condition, these efforts will have exponential benefits to the water quality and health of the upper reaches of the Indian River and the Inland Bays overall.”

As the vegetation takes root, the new habitats are expected to help fight climate change by capturing about 8.7 million pounds of atmospheric carbon over the next 20 years. The project also will stop about 170 pounds of nitrogen and four pounds of phosphorus pollution from reaching nearby waterways every year.

“We’re not just reforesting. We’re creating a more cohesive space for wildlife,” said Zachary Garmoe, the Center’s science technician. “Right now, there are thousands of tiny trees in tubes that 10 years from now will be a forest that will also help improve water quality and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.”

To learn more about the Center’s restoration work, go to inlandbays.org.


The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.

For more information or to arrange a site visit, contact Communications Specialist Maddy Goss at communications@inlandbays.org or at 302-858-7795.

Plants installed at the Burbage Road project site include switchgrass, a perennial grass.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Donates $15,000 to improvements at the James Farm Ecological Preserve

Monday, May 17th, 2021

Rehoboth Beach, Del. — The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is thrilled to announce a generous donation and partnership with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Beer & Benevolence program that will benefit future generations of Delawareans and visitors.

On Saturday, May 15, Dogfish Head released “Pontoon Lagoon,” a limited-edition gose-style ale brewed in collaboration with the Center, and presented the nonprofit organization with a $15,000 donation toward its Lessons in Nature capital campaign. The campaign supports a grand re-envisioning of the James Farm Ecological Preserve near Ocean View that will make the recreational and educational opportunities offered at the 150-acre oasis more easily accessible to diverse audiences for generations to come.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Beer & Benevolence program presented a $15,000 donation to the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays on Saturday, May 15. Shown are (left to right) Center board members Ken Sigvardson; Center supporter Bob Ragan; Development Coordinator Anna Short; Mark Carter, Dogfish’s Beer & Benevolence Director; Center Board of Directors Chair Susie Ball; Board members John Grandy, Nicole Bailey Ashton, and Pat Ragan; and the Center’s Executive Director Chris Bason.



“To say that we are thrilled by Dogfish Head’s support of this campaign would be an understatement,” said Anna Short, the Center’s Development Coordinator. “We are just so incredibly grateful for their partnership on our efforts at the Preserve—and for the delicious beer that they’ve brewed to honor the Bays and the work we do here at the Center!”

Pontoon Lagoon is a gose-style ale made with prickly pear, hand-harvested pickleweed, and local Henlopen Sea Salt. A portion of sales proceeds benefit the Center for the Inland Bays. Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.



Made with prickly pear, hand-harvested pickleweed, and local Henlopen Sea Salt, Pontoon Lagoon is available in 4pk/16oz cans at Dogfish Head’s Off-Centered EmPOURium in downtown Rehoboth Beach while supplies last. A portion of proceeds from sales of the beer will benefit the Center for the Inland Bays.

“Dogfish Head began its journey here in beautiful coastal Delaware, and we realize that the Inland Bays are an integral part of what makes this area so alluring,” said Mark Carter, Dogfish’s Beer & Benevolence Director. “We are fortunate to have many non-profits in our community doing amazing work on many fronts, and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is literally often knee-deep in the marsh working to preserve and protect our environment for us locals, our visitors, and for generations to come. We are proud to support their efforts, and we are stoked to cheers a beer with them that will help them further their mission.”

Since its inception, Dogfish Head’s philanthropic Beer & Benevolence program has focused on giving back to the coastal Delaware community through creative collaborations with nonprofit organizations. With its Beer & Benevolence program, Dogfish Head endeavors to foster community, nourish artistic advancement and cultivate environmental stewardship, and partners with local nonprofits that share those same ideals. Learn more at dogfish.com/beer-and-benevolence.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed. Learn more at inlandbays.org

This aerial view shows that the reimagining of the campus area will be as unique and appealing as the Preserve itself. Structural designs hold true to the agricultural heritage of the property and the region, making it a truly special place for Sussex County.

Water Contamination Issues to be Explored at Center for the Inland Bays Science Committee Meeting

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Rehoboth Beach, DE — The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays invites the public to learn about the impacts of legacy and emerging contaminants, wastewater planning and continuous water quality monitoring in the Inland Bays at an upcoming virtual Scientific & Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) meeting from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, April 23.

STAC meetings are a fantastic opportunity for residents to learn about local environmental issues and ask questions about the latest research in the Inland Bays. This committee provides objective, science-driven advice and guidance to the Center’s Board of Directors and other cooperating agencies with interests in the Inland Bays. 

Dr. Miling Li, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware’s School of Marine Science and Policy, will talk about her current Delaware-based research on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment. These manmade chemicals have been used in a wide range of industries for decades, and there is now evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Li, who studies global and local environmental issues related to ecosystems and public health, will also discuss her work related to heavy metals found lingering in various ecosystems.

Michelle Schmidt, the Center’s Watershed Coordinator, and Dr. Marianne Walch, the Center’s Science & Restoration Coordinator, will moderate a discussion on how to track the amount of nutrient pollution that enters the Bays from treated wastewater that is applied to the land. Treated wastewater from public and private wastewater treatment facilities is frequently applied through spray irrigation to agricultural fields, or is put directly into the soil through rapid infiltration basins. While additional pollutant removal occurs in the ground, some pollutants still remain in the water that will eventually make its way to nearby waterways such as creeks and bays. The ultimate goal is to create a “nutrient budget” for wastewater discharges in the Inland Bays watershed that will help decision makers protect the health of the Bays.

“We no longer have any direct discharges of wastewater (point sources) into the Inland Bays, which is great news,” said Dr. Walch. “But we do have increasing amounts of wastewater applied to the land because of the growing populations of people and chickens in our area. We need to understand how much of the nutrients in this wastewater are reaching the Inland Bays so that these discharges can be managed properly now and in the future.”

In addition, Andrew McGowan, an environmental scientist at the Center, will join Dr. Walch to discuss a new continuous water quality monitoring network that is being installed in the Inland Bays. Dissolved oxygen data collected last year from the upper Indian River will be presented. This network, which has started with a handful of monitoring stations that collect water quality data every 30 minutes, is a high priority action in the Inland Bays Environmental Monitoring Plan. Additional stations are planned for 2021, and the STAC will be asked for input on future expansion plans and funding.

The public and members of the media are encouraged to attend the Zoom meeting at https://udel.zoom.us/j/92329988767 and enter the passcode “science.” To join by phone, dial 646-876-9923 and enter the meeting ID “966 0476 1476.”

A draft agenda, as well as additional information about the committee and past meetings, can be found on the Center’s website at inlandbays.org/stac

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed. Learn more at inlandbays.org

For more information, please contact Dr. Marianne Walch at 302-226-8105 x705 or science@inlandbays.org

Inland Bays Science Surveys Seeking Volunteers for Spring 2021

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Rehoboth Beach – The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is gearing up for the 2021 survey season by hosting trainings for volunteer participants this March.

Every year, the Center hosts several volunteer-driven surveys to collect data on important species, such as fish and blue crabs, as indicators of the health of their coastal environments. That information in turn can help scientists and decision-makers identify and effectively plan restoration and conservation efforts.

“Volunteers are the heartbeat of the Center, and we rely on them to conduct these important surveys,” said the Center’s Project Manager Nivette Pérez-Pérez. “The surveys are a great way for people to learn more about the natural habitats of our Bays, and the volunteers find it rewarding to play such an important role in local science and restoration efforts.”

In March, the Center will train volunteers how to participate in two of its six citizen science surveys, an Osprey Survey and the Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey, as well as training participants interested in the Center’s James Farm Ecological Preserve Docent Program.

The Osprey Survey is new to the Center this year, and aims to track the nesting activity of adult ospreys in the Bays. Ospreys are important indicators of the health of the Bays because they are at the top of the food chain. In a process called biomagnification, the birds ingest pollutants that may accumulate in the fish that they eat. 

Researchers have been tracking data on the number of active osprey nests around the Bays since the 1990s, but previous surveys to track active osprey nests stopped several years ago. Because osprey activity is such an important indicator of the health of the Bays—an indicator that is used in the Center’s five-year State of the Bays report—the Center has decided to create a new, volunteer-based survey this year.

Since 2011, the Center’s Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey has collected data on fish populations at 16 shoreline sites in the Inland Bays watershed. With more than 100 species of fish known to use the Bays, data collected through this long-term survey can help scientists track changes in populations of the smaller and juvenile fish that inhabit marshes and intertidal areas.

The James Farm Docent Program plays a key role in educating visitors of the Preserve as they immerse themselves in a variety of beautiful habitats. Docents are trained to greet visitors, answer questions, and offer resources to the public, such as information on the history and mission of the Preserve. The James Farm Ecological Preserve is a 150-acre property on the Indian River Bay near Ocean View that is owned by Sussex County and managed by the Center.

This year, all survey trainings will be held online through Zoom. Pre-registration is required, and all volunteers must fill out a volunteer application and waiver, both of which are available online at inlandbays.org/volunteer.

The Osprey Survey virtual training will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 9. Interested volunteers can register at tinyurl.com/OspreySurvey. To learn more about the survey, go to inlandbays.org/ospreysurvey.

The training for the James Farm Docent Program will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 24. Interested volunteers can register at tinyurl.com/JamesFarmDocent. To learn more about the program, go to inlandbays.org/james-farm-docent-program.

The training for the Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 31. Interested volunteers can register at tinyurl.com/CenterFishSurvey. To learn more about the survey, go to inlandbays.org/fishsurvey.

Additional trainings for the Center’s Volunteer Horseshoe Crab Survey, Diamondback Terrapin Survey and Reforestation Survey will be held in April, and more information will be shared on those programs at a later date.

To learn more or to participate in the Center’s volunteer programs, go to inlandbays.org/volunteer.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed. Learn more about the Center’s work at inlandbays.org.

For more information, please contact Nivette Pérez-Pérez at nperezperez@inlandbays.org or Communications Specialist Maddy Goss at 302-858-7795 or communications@inlandbays.org.

Congress Moves to Invest in the Nation’s Estuaries

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021

Congress reauthorizes the National Estuary Program to recover and grow coastal economies and ensure resilient coastal communities

Sen. Tom Carper at Read Avenue

U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del. and a strong supporter of the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act, (right) recently visited the Center’s living shoreline project at Read Avenue in Dewey Beach. The project, which also includes unique stormwater elements and an offshore oyster reef, restored marsh habitats and has reduced flooding in the area.

Rehoboth Beach, Del. – Congress has reaffirmed its support and strong commitment to the National Estuary Program, a time-tested, non-regulatory program that enables communities to restore and protect the bays and estuaries they call home. The First State’s Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, two of 28 “estuaries of national significance,” will benefit directly from the Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act recently approved by Congress. 

The Protect and Restore America’s Estuaries Act was signed into law January 13, 2021, after receiving strong bipartisan support. The Act reaffirms support for the work of the National Estuary Program (NEP), and nearly doubles the annual authorized funding limit to $50 million. Under the new law, each NEP could receive as much as $1 million annually. It was strongly supported by Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Representative Lisa Blunt-Rochester.

“National Estuary Programs are critical to making coastal communities more resilient, particularly in the face of climate change and sea-level rise. In the First State, the Center for Inland Bays and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary are leaders in fortifying our communities while restoring habitat and conserving ecosystems,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, soon-to-be chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate. “Our nation’s estuaries are also economic drivers, and Delaware’s vibrant estuaries are no exception. Protecting them is a win-win, and our National Estuary Programs are wonderful partners in these efforts.”

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary work with communities at the local level in the Inland Bays and Delaware River Watershed to protect coastal resources essential for tourism, commerce, storm protection, clean water and marine-based food industries such as fisheries and aquaculture. Increasing threats from pollution, harmful algal blooms, climate change and risks to biodiversity threaten the vitality of estuaries across the country, including the Delaware Estuary and Delaware’s three Inland Bays: the Assawoman, Indian River and Rehoboth Bays.

“These actions demonstrate a clear recognition by Congress of the economic and environmental value of our nation’s estuaries and coasts,” said Lexie Bell, chair of the Association of National Estuary Programs, a national nonprofit established in 1995 to bring NEPs together for collaboration and shared learning.

“Estuaries nurture a vast array of marine life, filter pollutants from rivers before they reach the sea, and are the natural infrastructure that protects human communities from floods and storms,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the original sponsor of the bill introduced in July 2019. “As extreme weather events increasingly threaten these nurseries of the sea, I’m very proud this important legislation was signed into law, so these critical waterways will continue to be protected.”

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Delaware’s Sen. Carper were instrumental in securing passage of the bill, and are long-time champions of estuaries and coastal protection.

“In addition to funding research, the National Estuary Program ensures that the management plans governing nationally significant estuaries consider the effects of increasing and recurring extreme weather events and develop and implement appropriate adaptation strategies,” said Chris Bason, Executive Director of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays. 

“We are greatly appreciative of the strong support from our Senators and Representatives for the important work being done in our estuaries through our program and in collaboration with so many partners across sectors,” said Kathy Klein, Executive Director of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. 

Partnership for the Delaware Estuary scientists count and measure oysters near a living shoreline site at Mispillion Harbor in Delaware. From left, Shellfish Specialist Matt Gentry, Wetland Coordinator LeeAnn Haaf and Restoration Program Manager Josh Moody, Ph.D.

Last year, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays successfully worked to restore 863 linear feet of shoreline and preserve 690 acres of open space with partners from Sussex County government, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Town of Dewey Beach, the Delaware Botanic Gardens and more. The Center also launched new programs, including a Diamondback terrapin survey and a baygrass monitoring project, expanded water monitoring efforts and held more than two dozen virtual outreach and education programs. Learn more about the Center’s work at inlandbays.org.

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary in 2020 recycled more than 17,000 pounds of oyster shell for use in restoration projects, held 60-plus virtual programs during the Delaware River Festival, installed a dozen new groundwater monitoring wells and studied over 22,000 stems of cordgrass to track saltwater intrusion impacts. In three years, it reinforced 1,300 feet of living shoreline in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey with recycled oyster shells. Go to delawareestuary.org to learn more about the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary’s work.

ANEP Fact Sheet 2021

Recent Grant Awards Will Transform the James Farm Ecological Preserve

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

The reimagining of the Campus area will be as unique and appealing as the natural wonder of the Preserve itself. Structural designs hold true to the agricultural heritage of the property and the region, making it a truly special place for Sussex County.

Ocean View – The recent award of three major grants totaling $220,000 is setting in motion the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ reimagining of one of Sussex County’s most beloved public treasures: The James Farm Ecological Preserve.

Plans to transform the 150-acre nature preserve near Ocean View are years in the making. Grant awards of $100,000 from the Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Trails Program, $100,000 from Crystal Trust, and $20,000 from The Starrett Foundation will deliver upgrades to the Preserve’s trail system and expand environmental education opportunities for people of all ages and abilities.

In addition to these grants, Sussex County has committed nearly $300,000 toward this project, which is being realized through a cooperative partnership with the County and the Center. The Preserve is owned by Sussex County and managed by the Center.

“Sussex County is renowned for its picturesque beauty and environmental importance to Delaware and the mid-Atlantic region. The James Farm is a testament to that, and the ideal place to showcase nature at work,” Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent said. “Through this partnership with the Center for the Inland Bays, and with the financial support of the County and these generous benefactors, our residents and visitors alike will be able to better enjoy all that the James Farm Ecological Preserve has to offer, and hopefully expand their understanding of the natural wonder that surrounds us every day.”

This generous funding will support the implementation of the second phase of the Center’s Master Plan for the Preserve, which includes the construction of a new, three-season education building to enhance visitors’ learning experience while offering shelter from the elements.

A three-season education building (roof not shown) is the gem of planned improvements to the Preserve. It will be used for the “Day on the Bay” program, volunteer trainings, intergenerational education and community events. Architectural design by Kimley-Horn and David D. Quillin.

Additional upgrades will include realignment of the existing trail system to improve visitor experience and adapt to sea level rise, installation of interpretive signs to educate visitors about the Preserve’s ecosystems, permanent and ADA-compliant restrooms, and new maintenance facilities that will provide storage and workshop space to better care for the Preserve while supporting the Center’s restoration efforts elsewhere in the watershed.

The Master Plan for the Preserve was developed with collective input from stakeholders, residents and visitors in an effort to address needs related to the physical restoration, improvement and management of the property, while also considering emerging issues such as sea-level rise.

“We envision a regionally important outdoor education site that has facilities that match the beauty of the Preserve’s diverse ecosystems,” said the Center’s Executive Director Chris Bason. “The Master Plan will protect this one-of-a-kind amenity while greatly increasing our capacity to educate a growing number of visitors about the Inland Bays. Safe, immersive experiences in nature and quality environmental education are essential to realizing a new generation of residents dedicated to caring for these incredible ecological and economic assets.”

Currently, the Preserve offers only primitive shelter and facilities, which can mean disruptions to outdoor learning experiences when bad weather hits. When the Preserve was initially developed in 1998, facilities were not built to accommodate the rapid population growth Sussex County is undergoing.

In 2020, as more people found themselves seeking solace in the outdoors, visitation at the Preserve markedly increased with nearly 40,000 visitors, a nearly 400% increase since 2012 visitation estimates. Over the past five years, more and more visitors have been learning about the unique offerings of this slice of serenity nestled along the banks of Indian River Bay. With its natural collection of diverse coastal ecosystems like freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, and maritime forests, the Preserve supports osprey, shorebirds, horseshoe crabs and a plethora of other wildlife while showcasing the magnificent beauty of the Delmarva peninsula, all in one place.

A student of the Day on the Bay program records her observations on a sample collected from Indian River Bay. The new education building will provide more suitable workspace for students, as well as shelter from the elements during inclement weather.

The Preserve also offers critical environmental education to underserved local students. The “Day on the Bay” program, which has served more than 19,000 students with fully-immersive, curriculum-aligned STEM education since it was established 20 years ago, will benefit tremendously from the planned improvements. The new education building will not only allow for more students and continued programming in inclement weather, but will also create an immersive learning experience so that students can foster a meaningful connection with the outdoors.

Fundraising for the project continues through the Center’s Lessons in Nature capital campaign. The campaign is set to launch its public debut in spring 2021 and seeks to raise the rest of the funding needed by the end of the year. A unique naming opportunity for the education building is available and those interested in supporting the project are encouraged to contact the Center.

“Being the stewards of this Preserve is an honor,” Bason said. “Having the responsibility to teach others about the amazing waters of the Bays — what lives in them, how they work, how they can be a source of life and danger — that is an awesome responsibility and something that we want to be able to share with so many more people.”

Implementation of the first phase of the James Farm Master Plan began in fall 2018 and included expanded parking facilities to increase capacity while safely accommodating increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic, designated school bus parking for safe student transport, and a multi-purpose event lawn for open space recreation and community events.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Center staff at the Preserve, contact Development Coordinator Anna Short at 302-226-8105 ext. 102 or ashort@inlandbays.org. For more about the Center, go to inlandbays.org.

Center for the Inland Bays and State Climatologist to Dive in to Local Climate Change Tools, Solutions

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Rehoboth Beach, DE — The challenges of climate change in coastal Delaware, as well as solutions and tools to better understand the impacts, will be the focus of the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ upcoming Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) – Citizens Café.

The public is invited to join the Citizens Café virtually through Zoom at 6 p.m. on  Thursday, January 14.

Delaware is at the forefront of climate change impacts, with the lowest average elevation in the nation and sea level rise rates measuring at more than twice the global average. The state has seen a temperature increase of about 0.2 degrees per decade since record-keeping began in 1895, which has also meant a longer growing season as the first and last frosts of the year are delayed.

Dr. Daniel Leathers (left) and Kevin Brinson check the internal mechanism of the rain gage at the Newark Delaware Environmental Observing System site.

Guest speaker Dr. Daniel Leathers will explore the tools that the Center for Environmental Monitoring (CEMA) has available to better understand and monitor climate change in Delaware’s coastal environment. Dr. Leathers serves as CEMA’s Director and as Delaware’s State Climatologist, and also is a professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Geography, Director of the Meteorology/Climatology Program, and is the Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS).

“Sea-level rise and other impacts of a changing climate will greatly affect our state,” says Dr. Leathers. “Monitoring climate and building environmentally relevant decision support tools for its residents is of great importance in understanding and limiting the consequences of a changing climate.”

Dr. Leathers also has served as the Chair of the Department of Geography and as Deputy Dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. His major research interests include understanding the role of snow cover in the global climate system and environmental monitoring. He earned a B.A. in Physics and Astronomy at Lycoming College, an M.S. in Meteorology from Penn State University, and a Ph.D. in Geography from Penn State.

Michelle Schmidt, Watershed Coordinator at the Center, will join the conversation to share updates on the role climate change plays in the Center’s draft revised Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The CCMP documents goals and activities that the Center and its partners agreed to address based on scientific data and input from key stakeholders and the community. The Center uses the CCMP to direct and carry out activities that protect and enhance the Inland Bays. The original CCMP was created in 1995 and updated in 2012, and a revised version is now nearly complete.

The Citizens Café will take place virtually on Zoom and pre-registration is required by signing up at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAudOitrj4pHNC8YYaIFpWnlNryGn2I_JpX.

More details about CAC and the January 14 meeting can be found online at www.inlandbays.org/about/committees/citizens-advisor.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.

The CAC’s key role is to bring public concerns related to the protection of the Inland Bays and its watershed to the attention of the Center’s Board of Directors. Quarterly meetings (Cafés) offer the public a chance to engage with CAC and Center representatives and learn more about the Inland Bays watershed. 

For more information, please contact Lisa Swanger, Outreach & Education Coordinator, at 302-226-8105 x103 or lswanger@inlandbays.org, or visit us online at www.inlandbays.org.

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Delaware Center for the Inland Bays Honors Supporters with “Friend of the Bays” Awards

Friday, December 4th, 2020

Rehoboth Beach, DE – The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is proud to announce this year’s recipients of the “Friend of the Bays” Awards, an honor given to individuals, volunteers and businesses for their support, partnership and volunteering excellence.

On Thursday, Dec. 3, the Center awarded Delmarva Power, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Regional Fish & Wildlife Manager Rob Gano and volunteer Jodi McLaughlin as the 2020 “Friend of the Bays” awardees.

Delmarva Power is a unit of Exelon Corporation that provides safe and reliable energy service to about 532,000 electric customers in Delaware and Maryland and about 136,000 natural gas customers in northern Delaware. The company, represented by Senior Public Affairs Manager Jim Smith, earned this year’s “Friend of the Bays” Business Award for supporting local environmental efforts, especially the preservation and restoration of the Inland Bays. 

“Whether helping the Center restore wild shellfish populations in the Bays or investing in the environmental education and recreation that the James Farm Ecological Preserve offers, Jim Smith and his team at Delmarva Power have proved themselves to be Friends of the Bays many times over,” said Anna Short, the Center’s Development Coordinator.

Rob Gano was presented with the Partner Award for his many years as a friend to the Center. The Center’s Executive Director, Chris Bason, outlined how Rob has helped preserve and restore habitat throughout the Bays, including his recent work with the Center at the Piney Point Tract of the Assawoman Wildlife Area along the Indian River.

“Rob’s responsibilities managing an increasingly popular and ecologically dynamic wildlife area are always growing, yet every time we come to him, he welcomes us with a smile and finds a way to protect and restore more fish and wildlife habitat,” Chris said. “He cares about people and wildlife very much: Rob is one in a million.”

Last, but certainly not least, the 2020 “Friend of the Bays” Volunteer Award was presented to Jodi McLaughlin for her invaluable help at the James Farm Ecological Preserve, maintaining and fixing osprey nests and participating in the Center’s oyster gardening program.

“The Center’s volunteers serve as stewards of our mission to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed,” said Nivette Pérez-Pérez, Project Manager at the Center. “It’s passionate people like Jodi who motivate us to move forward with their contagious excitement for the natural beauty of the Bays.”

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect, and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.

For more information call Nivette Pérez-Pérez at (302) 226-8105 ext. 109, send an email to nperezpereze@inlandbays.org or communications@inlandbays.org, or visit us online at www.inlandbays.org.

 

Drive in Style with a New Horseshoe Crab License Plate

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Delaware – Few things are more idyllically Delaware than specialty license plates and horseshoe crabs. Delawareans can embrace their First State heritage and support a good environmental cause by purchasing a license plate featuring our very own living fossil.

The new environmental license plate featuring a coastal scene and Limulus polyphemus, better known as the American horseshoe crab, is now available to purchase through the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles online or in-person at DMV locations throughout the state. 

The plates are $50 (one-time fee) and make for an affordable holiday gift for yourself or loved one that keeps on giving as 70% of the proceeds directly support the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE). Both organizations conduct scientific research and surveys in the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Inland Bays, critical habitats for horseshoe crabs and the shorebirds that rely on their eggs each spring.

Delaware is fortunate to be the home of two National Estuary Programs (NEP) that are both non-profit organizations: The Center for the Inland Bays based in Rehoboth Beach, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary whose headquarters are in Wilmington. There are 28 NEPs across the country. The NEP is a nationwide program that’s designed to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance.

The iconic lighthouse license plate, which also benefits the Center and PDE, is still available for purchase, as well.

For more information about purchasing the plate, go to dmv.de.gov.

To request interviews or additional photos, please contact either Maddy Goss, Communications Specialist at the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, at 302-858-7795 or mgoss@inlandbays.org or Kate Layton, Communications Coordinator at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, at 302-655-4990 ext. 113 or klayton@delawareestuary.org.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays works to preserve, protect, and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed. Partnership for the Delaware Estuary works with partners in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware to connect people, science and nature for a healthy Delaware River and Bay.

For more information about the Center, go to inlandbays.org. For more information about the Partnership, go to delawareestuary.org.