The move is another small step in the effort to eliminate Delaware’s dubious distinction as the only state without a national park.
While the exact impact is not exactly clear, Delaware environmental officials are celebrating the inclusion of the First State National Historical Park Act of 2011 and the Delaware National Bayshore proposal in President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Deputy Secretary at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) David Small says including these projects in the initiative should make some federal resources available to the state.
“It’s early to say what those resources are with any specificity, but it’s an acknowledgement by the Department of Interior that this is a special place with a special initiative and that under these themes that they are willing to help us achieve some goals,” Small says. And although he admits those goals are not necesarily defined as yet, “the idea of conserving this area, restoring some of the area, making it more accessible from a recreational point of view, and interpreting and marketing this area, I think are some of the key themes.”
In addition to support for a Delaware national park, the initiative also endorses a proposal to create the Delaware National Bayshore. Small says the Bayshore proposal “is really looking at the special areas that exist really from the mouth of the [Delaware] Bay near Lewes, up to the C & D Canal area that are fairly open, there’s a lot of diverse habitats there.” Much of the area was preserved in the 1970’s through the Delaware Coastal Zone Act.
Small says the federal government could help the state figure out how to better promote the area and improve access. “It’s a bit intangible, yet it’s the first step, which we’re excited to be a part of and I think we’ll be able to build with more specificity with our conservation partners in the state.”