2012 Press Release Archive

Foundation Urges Action on Inland Bays Buffers

GEORGETOWN — The Inland Bays Foundation says time has come for Sussex County Council to upgrade its buffer ordinance to improve water quality in the Inland Bays. Rich Collins, executive director of the Positive Growth Alliance, says action is not needed for several reasons, including the fact that water quality in the area is improving. Read the rest of the article in the Gape Gazette….

Earth Day Message from DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara

Imagine the lengths that we would go if a multibillion-dollar industry supporting thousands of jobs said it was leaving the state. We would use every tool at our disposal to save those jobs.

Would it surprise you to learn that from our stunning beaches and waterways to our unrivaled parks and wildlife areas, Delaware’s natural environment supports billions of dollars of economic activity and is a critical job generator in the state? We don’t often think or talk about our natural resources this way, but on this Earth Day, I propose that protecting and restoring our natural resources is essential to our state’s economic well-being and provides one of the greatest opportunities for job growth in the years ahead.

Thousands of Delaware jobs in businesses like hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, bait and tackle shops, recreational equipment stores, boat sales and commercial fishing depend upon a healthy environment. In addition, our natural resources provide hundreds of millions of dollars of irreplaceable economic value purifying air and water, mitigating flooding, and supporting diverse species. And recreational amenities, such as biking and walking trails, reduce health care costs.

For many years, the long-term implications of various decisions regarding Delaware’s natural resources were too often an afterthought. The waters of the Inland Bays, the Nanticoke River watershed, and the Delaware River basin were allowed to be polluted without regard to the long-term economic consequences.

This is all changing. More and more Delawareans recognize that a healthy environment plays an integral role in the state’s economic success. Visitors come to Delaware to experience the pristine beaches, rustic landscapes, world-class birding, hunting, fishing, biking, and hiking. Clean air, clean water, safe soils, and memorable recreational experiences are absolutely necessary to attract visitors and new companies, not to mention retain businesses and their top talent.

Delaware is working to demonstrate that strong environmental protection can help drive economic prosperity. As a result, the health of Delaware’s environment is getting stronger every day. And although there is still much work to do, we are emerging as a national leader in several key areas:

» Local air quality is improving significantly with sharp reductions in pollution resulting from improvements at the Indian River Power and Edgemoor/Hay Road power plants, the Delaware City Refinery, Dover Energy Center, Evraz-Claymont Steel, Mountaire, and Perdue, and increased energy efficiency and adoption of cleaner energy sources and vehicles. These actions will improve public health and the quality of life for our residents, as we work with EPA to reduce the substantial pollution coming into Delaware from upwind states.

» Over the past two decades, water quality has improved steadily as a result of investments in wastewater treatment plants. Despite these efforts, there is much more effort needed, as important commercial and recreational waterways like the Christina, Inland Bays and Nanticoke are suffering from run-off and other pollution that prevents them from being fishable and swimmable.

» Delaware has developed some of the best brownfield and leaking tank programs in the nation to remediate contaminated sites that are a lingering reminder of polluting companies from our past. Studies have shown that every dollar invested in our brownfields program returns $17 to the state’s economy. Right now, we are cleaning up dozens of sites, including the former Chrysler site and NVF property in Yorklyn, to prepare them for a new, more sustainable future.

» Over the past year, Delaware has become a national leader in recycling. Half a dozen new companies have opened to process and re-sell materials that for decades went to landfills.

» Delaware is blessed with remarkable fish and wildlife habitat and some of the best hunting, fishing, birding, and other outdoor activities on the East Coast. These activities already drive hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity every year, and through our Delaware Bayshore Initiative, Nanticoke Watershed Restoration Plan, and Inland Bays strategy, we will restore wildlife habitat, provide low-impact recreational amenities, and spur new economic opportunities.

» Through the “No Child Left Inside” initiative and First State Trail and Pathway Plan, we are working to ensure that young and old alike have access to outdoor amenities and experiences that are fundamental to good health.

» Delaware has a comprehensive approach to reduce our state’s vulnerability to flooding risks and extreme weather events. We are working to protect wetlands, which naturally reduce flood surges, repair failing dams and dikes and modernize approaches to drainage and stormwater management.

So on this Earth Day, let us celebrate Delaware’s extraordinary natural environment and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of activity that depend upon their stewardship. Let us pledge anew to enjoy all that Delaware’s natural wonders have to offer and to protect, preserve, and defend that which we hold dear and keep our covenant with future generations.

Inland Bays Foundation Seeks Members to Help in Mission

Date Published: March 30, 2012

By Monica Scott

Coastal Point Staff Reporter

The Inland Bays Foundation is up and running and ready to recruit members. They had their first official meeting as an established 501(c)3 organization in October 2011 and have a mission “to advocate and promote the restoration of the Inland Bays watershed by conducting public outreach and education, tracking restoration efforts, encouraging scientific inquiry and sponsoring needed research, in order to establish a long-term process for the protection and enhancement of the Inland Bays.”

“We feel we are now well enough organized and ready to go to get members,” explained IBF President Bill Moyer. “We are ready to let people know who we are, what our objectives are and why they should join.”

He added that, simply, anyone who “cares about the inland bays and wants to return them to their fishable and swimmable state” should become a member.

Moyer explained that the IBF will do education and outreach, which has already been done for many years, but also has a mission to have more direct contact with state, county and local governments on issues that they feel need to be addressed.

He added that they are prepared to also do “more heavy lobbying and possibly litigation,” if need be.

Many of the members of the group’s board of directors are either former or current members of the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Center for the Inland Bays (CIB), but Moyer has said he wanted people to know they plan to work with the CIB.

Many of their members are also involved with Citizens for Clean Power, the Town of Fenwick Island’s Environmental Committee and/or the Sierra Club, as well as other environmental advocacy groups. Moyer himself was born in Lewes and raised in Laurel and worked for DNREC as the manager of the Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands section for 30 years before retiring.

In 1969, Moyer explained, the results of environmental studies done on the Rehoboth and Assawoman bays were presented to then-Gov. Russell Peterson. He said those reports stated that stressors on the bays needed to be addressed or conditions in the inland bays would worsen. As an employee of DNREC, in 1981, he chaired the inland bays study group that charged DNREC, DelDOT and Sussex County to look at the bays to see what could be done to improve their quality.

In 1983, they made recommendations to the governor’s task force that eventually led to the formation of the CIB, which was established as a nonprofit organization in 1994 under the auspices of the Inland Bays Watershed Enhancement Act (Title 7, Chapter 76).

What led to the Inland Bays Foundation, formed in 2011 as an independent organization, explained Moyer, was the fact that a number of the recommendations made in 1983 have yet to be implemented.

Moyer said land use, habitat protection and water quality remain the top issues that need to be addressed.

“There is strength in numbers,” he concluded. “We have 15 directors that are extremely dedicated to the cause and are working diligently to make this work. The more people we can get the more effective we can be.”

Joining Moyer in the group’s leadership are President-Elect Ron Wuslich, Vice-President Harry Haon, Secretary Helen Truitt, Treasurer Robert Adams, Robert Cubbison, Gary Jayne, John Austin, Robert Chin, Carl Mantegna, Martha Keller, Doug Parham, William Wickham, Robert Gallaghar and Shirley Price.

For more information on membership or on the foundation, visit www.inlandbaysfoundation.org online or emailinfo@inlandbaysfoundation.org.


CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902 or Mark Biddle, Division of Watershed Stewardship. 302-739-9939.

New report shows Delaware continues to lose valuable wetlands despite conservation efforts Report demonstrates importance of wetlands in cleaning water, reducing flooding, protecting the coast and providing habitat.

DOVER (Feb. 27, 2012) – A new report released this week prior to the biennial Delaware Wetlands Conference concludes that despite heightened public awareness of the importance of wetlands and stronger conservation efforts throughout the state to combat their loss, Delaware continues to surrender critical wetlands at an alarming rate. “Delaware Wetlands: Status and Changes” documents that the loss of quality wetlands in the state far outpaces the acres of wetlands that have been created and restored. The report describes the valuable functions of Delaware’s wetlands, including helping to purify the state’s waters, reducing flooding by capturing and holding water, contributing to groundwater supplies, protecting the coast from storms, and providing critical habitat for fish and wildlife species. The report also references recommendations made in an earlier report by national wetlands experts on best practices adopted in other states which could prove effective at reversing the trend of significant losses in Delaware.

The status and changes report is now available online at: www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/DelawareWetlands/Pages/DelawareWetlandsStatusandTrends.aspx LINK to Report.

As wetlands are lost or degraded, their ability to improve water quality and reduce flooding in a cost-effective way is greatly diminished. DNREC is committed to working with other regulatory agencies, land-use decision makers, planners, and the public to share this important information and improve wetland protection throughout the state. The status report also contains information on wetland health, wetland characterization by county and drainage basin, and functional analysis (how natural functions provided by wetlands are affected). An earlier trends report on change to wetland acreage was done for the 10-year period ending in 1992, but did not include assessment of function.

The report was released concurrently with updated wetland maps for the entire state, which will improve DNREC’s ability to provide more accurate data for environmental decision making. The recent mapping effort documented 320,076 acres of wetlands.

DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara expressed the importance of slowing the decline of Delaware’s wetlands. “Wetlands are critically important to public health and safety of all Delawareans,” he said. “We must work together to protect these valuable resources that help provide clean water, reduce flooding and storm damage, and provide important fishery and wildlife habitat. Through a combination of incentive programs, market-based mechanisms, and appropriate regulatory requirements, I am confident that we can protect these critical natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations.”

A comparison was made between the 1992 and 2007 maps detailing where there were losses, gains, or changes in wetland resources, and whether causes were natural or man-made during the 15-year span. Man-made causes associated with development or lands transitioning to development contributed to 58 percent of loss through the filling or draining of wetlands. During this time period, Delaware experienced a net loss of 3,126 acres of vegetated wetlands. This represents an almost 10 percent increase in acres lost per year from the 1992 status and trends report. “Delaware has already lost over half of its original wetlands, and the losses continue,” said Mark Biddle, environmental scientist with DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship.

“DNREC is not only evaluating losses, but is also considering the health of our remaining wetlands. We have incorporated functional analysis in this new report as a barometer for wetland health and how well wetlands are performing the beneficial services that contribute to our quality of life,” Biddle noted. “Through this report and other wetland health sampling, we are seeing an increase in degraded wetlands due to secondary impacts such as increased pollutants coming from surrounding land use. Therefore we’re not only losing wetlands and their services in entirety due to direct impacts, but we are also finding diminished wetland function due to secondary impacts. Additionally, we are in the beginning stages of evaluating economic and societal costs of losing wetland functions.”

Causes of wetland losses remained relatively the same, with forested wetlands as the most impacted during both reporting periods. While losing vegetated wetlands, Delaware experienced a net gain of 2,285 acres of ponds. However, many of these non-vegetated ponds were for stormwater control in new developments – and while important for surface water detention, these ponds do not provide the level of benefits as yielded by natural wetlands.

Delaware has benefitted from a strong state law protecting tidal wetlands passed in 1972 and the associated regulatory program administered by DNREC. Tidal wetland losses have been minimized due to the implementation of the law – the report shows a loss of just over 38 acres with more than 21 acres being created between 1992 and 2007.

Already, DNREC scientists are meeting with the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to zero in on why these alterations are occurring to the wetland landscape. While many factors can affect wetlands, the new mapping effort may help determine exact causes. Once closer analysis is complete, this information will be incorporated into existing wetland programs in Delaware for improved protection of these precious natural resources.

To become more involved in wetland protection please find details on DNREC’s “How You Can Help” webpage www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/DelawareWetlands/Pages/Howyoucanhelp.aspx. For landowners who wish to enroll in voluntary wetland restoration and protection programs please see the Wetland Restoration Guidebooks for Landowners at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/DelawareWetlands/Pages/Restoration.aspx. LINK to Restoration Guidebooks.

This report and additional information on Delaware wetlands can be found at:www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/Delaware Wetlands.

Vol. 42, No.61


Michael Globetti

Public Affairs-Office of the Secretary

Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control