Rehoboth Beach, DE – This week, volunteers teamed up with the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CIB), The Nature Conservancy in Delaware, and DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, to reforest areas of Bullseye-Ferry Landing Preserve near Millsboro and the Perry Tract at Angola Neck Preserve near Lewes.
“Reforesting these 37 total acres is a win for native wildlife, local residents, and our Inland Bays,” says CIB Project Manager, Bob Collins. “This was an opportunity to improve water quality for anyone who enjoys fishing, swimming, and boating in the Inland Bays, as well as create some much-needed habitat for native wildlife.”
Nutrient pollution remains the greatest threat to good water quality in the Inland Bays. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus (from fertilizers, human wastewater, and runoff from developed lands), can cause algal blooms which lead to murky water, low oxygen levels, and the disappearance of bay grasses.
Now these fields will no longer be fertilized, and the trees can help remove some of the nutrient pollution in the soil and groundwater, preventing it from reaching local creeks or rivers – and eventually the Inland Bays.
It is estimated that both projects together will result in a pollution reduction of 15 pounds of phosphorus and 592 pounds of nitrogen to the Bays annually. In comparison to another method of achieving nutrient reduction – converting septic systems to central sewer – this project will have an impact equivalent to removing 55 small septic systems from the watershed.
In addition to the benefits of pollution reduction, the reforestation of the 22-acre Bullseye Ferry Landing Preserve, and 15-acre Perry Tract at Angola Neck Preserve will also be of benefit to native wildlife by creating more ‘interior forested habitat’.
According to the current Delaware Wildlife Action Plan, 43% of Delaware’s forestland is expected to be developed by 2050. But when an area is fragmented by development, forests are carved into ever smaller pieces, creating less-productive “edge habitat” next to roads, fields and developed areas.
“This can cause a shift in the species that can live and thrive in the Inland Bays watershed,” explains Dr. Marianne Walch, Science Coordinator for the CIB. “As we lose interior habitat, we see fewer species that rely on it – like the Delmarva fox squirrel, the Cope’s gray tree frog, and songbirds including the wood thrush, scarlet tanager, and yellow-throated warbler.”
By reforesting cropland adjacent to other forested areas, the projects are reducing the amount of edge habitat and creating a good chunk of interior habitat: 31 acres at Bullseye Ferry Landing Preserve and 6.26 acres at the Perry Tract at Angola Neck Preserve. This will give some interior-forest dwelling species the space they need to survive.
According to CIB Executive Director, Chris Bason, this project couldn’t have happened without partnerships. “I’m thrilled that we could partner with the The Nature Conservancy in Delaware and DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation. They, together with many dedicated volunteers and staff, have worked tirelessly make these projects happen – and they are making a real difference.”
The Nature Conservancy in Delaware owns and manages Bullseye-Ferry Landing Preserve, and DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation owns and manages Angola Neck Preserve. Funding for these projects is provided through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Community Environmental Project Fund, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Nonpoint Source Program grant, and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays.
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the CIB works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays–the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.