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Simple Ways to Help the Bays: Tips for Residents and Visitors

Residential Area

Residents – A Dozen Ways to Help the Bays

  1. Remember that whatever you put on the ground can end up in the Bays; that includes oil, pesticides and fertilizer. Use these things carefully and dispose of them properly.
  2. Scoop up your pet’s poop. When it rains, pet waste can get washed into storm drains that flow into our Bays.
  3. Plant a rain garden and install rain barrels around your home to conserve water and keep stormwater runoff from entering the streets and storm drains.
  4. Reduce the need for fertilizer and pesticides by choosing native plants adapted to our soils and climatic conditions.   If you must use a pesticide, try the least toxic ones available first, such as insecticidal soaps.
  5. Fertilize sparingly. Test your soil, apply the right amount, and don’t apply before a heavy rainfall.  These chemicals can ultimately end up in the water, so the less you use, the better!
  6. Control erosion on your property with plantings to keep soil out of streets and storm drains that empty into our streams and bays. These sediments can destroy bay bottom habitat and put excess nutrients into the bays.
  7. If you live on the water–a stream, pond or bay–plant or maintain a buffer of trees and shrubs at the edge of the water…at least 25 feet…more if there is any slope, to slow down and filter the stormwater runoff before it reaches the water.
  8. If you water, position your sprinklers on your lawn towards the grass and away from the gutter and paved areas. This will limit surface runoff and save water.  Keep leaves and other organic material off paved surfaces where they can be washed into storm drains and carry nutrients into the bays.
  9. Learn about the native plants and animals that live in our watershed and help to protect them. Eradicate invasive plant species on your property and replace them with native plants.
  10. Use a car wash which recycles water. Or wash your car on a lawn or stones, not in the street.
  11. Become a Friend of the Bays member of the Center for the Inland Bays – by making a donation. or Become a Volunteer for the Bays.
  12. Check out Clean Water Delaware website to find out more about the effort, sign the “Clean Water Pledge” or contact your state Senator and Representative to let your legislators know you support secured funding for clean water.

Community Area

Communities – Working Together for the Bays

If you have a Homeowners Association (HOA) or neighbors who want to work together to protect and restore our bays, you can make a big difference.

Things your community can do:

  1. Manage your “common ground” open space in a bay-friendly way. Limit use of fertilizers and pesticides, leave grass clippings on the ground as a slow release fertilizer.  Plant native shrubs and trees. Plant or maintain adequate buffers of trees, shrubs and grasses between lawn and streams, bay or wetlands.
  2. If stormwater is draining off driveways and streets and flowing into storm drains or directly into the Bays, encourage residents to create rain gardens to capture their rain before it runs into the street. Consider creating rain garden swales to capture and process some of the stormwater from paved surfaces in the neighborhood. Click here to learn all about how to plant a rain garden.

  3. Many communities have stormwater retention ponds. Create a planted buffer around the pond with native trees, shrubs and flowers. It will help filter nutrients coming off the lawn and keep them out of the pond, and it will attract native birds and butterflies.
  4. If your community is right on one of the Bays, protect your shoreline habitats; avoid ‘hardening” the shoreline with bulkheads and rip-rap…this destroys critical habitat for many Inland Bays species including horseshoe crabs and diamondback terrapins. Learn more about Living Shorelines.

  5. Bring in the CIB Speakers Bureau. Invite us to your next community meeting!  Let us show you how we can work together for the Inland Bays.  Contact us and let us know of your interest.  We can bring you up to speed on the ‘State of the Bays’…we can show you how rain gardens can help your community and help the Bays…or we can fill you in on citizen science projects and volunteers opportunities.  Contact Sally Boswell, Education Outreach Coordinator at outreach@inlandbays.org to schedule a speaker for your meeting.

Boats at IRM

Boaters – Helping from the Water

At the marina

  1. Prevent spills during fueling. Don’t overfill the tank! Capture spills with pads or vent attachments. Install a fuel-air separator. Don’t rely on the gauge, listen to the fill pipe.
  2. Keep your engine leak-free and well-tuned to keep fuel and oil out of the water.
  3. Use an oil absorbent pad or pillow in the bilge to absorb oil.
  4. Use biodegradable, environmentally safe detergents to clean your boat.
  5. Protect public health! Use pumpout stations to dispose of sewage. 

On the water

  1. Keep your boat off the bottom and tay clear of areas where there are underwater grasses to protect these habitats that provide shelter and provide nursery areas for fish and crabs. 
  2. Observe speed limits. Your wake could cause shoreline erosion.
  3. Respect the islands. We know…the islands look like they were made for a beach party, but look closer.  The islands in the bays are nesting areas for many birds, most of them ground nesters. They use these islands for nesting because they are safer from predators such as fox, cats and raccoons and dogs. The nests are nearly invisible on the sand. If you do set foot on an island, watch where you put it. And keep your dog on the boat (or at least on a leash).
  4. Carry out your trash. Fishing line, plastic bags, cigarette butts, and other trash are dangerous to wildlife. Birds are often entangled in abandoned fishing line and sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish.