Wetlands plan calls for conservation, research, education

State focuses on improving stewardship of fragile resource

By Ron MacArthur | Dec 04, 2015

State officials want to protect and conserve Delaware’s 320,000 acres of wetlands, including 150,000 acres in Sussex County.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service recently published an updated Delaware Wetland Management Plan.

The plan recognizes that private citizens own the majority of the state’s wetlands and seeks to educate citizens and assist them to become good stewards of the valuable resource.

Most people assume that wetlands are protected by state or federal agencies, but that’s not the case, said Alison Rogerson, DNREC’s wetlands monitoring and assessment program leader. She said 80 percent of the state’s wetlands are owned by private landowners, mostly on forested parcels.

She said it’s important to provide updated information to landowners to help them better identify wetlands. “The forested wetlands are not always obvious and are the ones that face the biggest threats from development,” she said.

Over the past 15 years, the state has lost about 3,000 acres of wetlands, 3,500 acres of farmland and 1,700 acres of woodlands. Rogerson said farming and development are the two leading contributors to wetlands loss.

The new plan’s action items include updated mapping of the state’s wetlands to compare results from 2007 to 2017-2018. Read the rest of this article on the Gape Gazette website…