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Governor Carney, Secretary Garvin Celebrate Expansion of White Clay Creek State Park

Governor and DNREC staff show new park map

DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Open Space Program Planner Kerri Batrowny, Open Space Program Council member Lorraine Fleming, Division Director Ray Bivens, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, President of Friends of White Clay Creek State Park David Koppeser and Gov. John Carney celebrate the addition of 275 acres to White Clay Creek State Park./DNREC photo.

 

Gov. John Carney and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin today celebrated and hiked newly acquired land that expands White Clay Creek State Park in Newark. This expansion of the nearly 3,650-acre park marks a historic environmental investment to enhance recreational opportunities, bolster wildlife habitats, and preserve additional open spaces in New Castle County.

Three new land acquisitions will add 275 acres, or the equivalent to 7.5% of White Clay Creek State Park land holdings. The acquisition of properties is progressing in three phases:

  • Phase 1: about 90 acres – Acquisition completed in September 2023.
  • Phase 2: about 97 acres – Acquisition completed in January 2024
  • Phase 3: about 88 acres – Acquisition anticipated mid-2024

The $26 million in acquisitions is being funded by multiple sources, including:

  • The Open Space Program – $20 million from Fiscal Year 2023; the usual annual allocation to the program is $10 million.
  • Mt. Cuba Center with The Conservation Fund – $6 million
  • The Acres for America Program – $500,000

“I have no doubt that our award-winning state parks are a real reason folks decide to call Delaware home. That’s why it’s important we continue to invest in our parks, especially those near the most densely populated areas, including White Clay Creek State Park,” said Governor Carney. “It’s on all of us to preserve this land for future generations. I want to thank the public servants at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control who helped make this expansion possible through our Open Space program. I also want to thank Mt. Cuba Center, The Conservation Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Acres for America program for their partnership.”

The acquisition of these three properties aligns with the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan, which emphasizes keeping the park natural and maximizing its nearly 40-mile trail system. The expansion of the park underscores Delaware’s dedication to preserving natural resources.

“Delaware is not able to create more land. The opportunity to preserve this much land in New Castle County is one-of-a-kind,” said DNREC Secretary Garvin. “The newly acquired land meets all the criteria for a high-quality habitat, connects to existing park land, including surrounding parks and open spaces, and will provide more areas for people to walk and recreate. As part of the Delaware State Parks system, this land will receive the high caliber of environmental stewardship the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation is known for.”

The additional land also increases the potential to attract rare species to northern Delaware, such as the Northern Parula warbler and Northern Harrier hawk, the Bridle shiner (a species of minnow), Longtail salamanders and the federally endangered Northern Long-Eared Bat.

The entire White Clay Creek Watershed is part of the National Park Service’s designated Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The three property acquisitions further protect this watershed, including the water quality of Middle Run Creek and its connecting bodies of water. White Clay hosts a variety of ecosystems including wooded uplands, freshwater wetlands, open meadows and steep stream valleys.

When the Open Space Program was created in 1990, there were 669,063 residents living among Delaware’s 1.6 million acres. Delaware’s population now stands at just over 1 million residents and continues to grow.

From 1990 to date, the Open Space Program has protected 65,819 acres. The program has spent $294 million dollars of state money and leveraged $109 million from public and private partnerships. Landowners who wish to conserve their land through Delaware’s Open Space Program may go to de.gov/openspace to learn more.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter) or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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