Delaware’s Coastal future tied to an act of the Great Depression

Saturday is National Hunting and Fishing Day in Delaware.  It marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department.  There was a quick nod to the past while Delaware wildlife officials were also looking to the future.

 

Senator Chris Coons, (D-Del.) was among those who pointed out that the agency was created in the depths of the economic depression of the 1930’s.  He asked, “Why would conservationists welcome new fees and other expenses?  Because they knew a great federal partnership was being created.”  

David Saveikis, Delaware’s Director of Fish and Wildlife, said that for every dollar Delaware generates in hunting and fishing licenses, the federal government puts in $3.  Colin O’Mara, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) says over the years $75 million has been spent on projects that range from saving wild turkeys from extinction in Delaware to acquiring new wildlife areas.  He said the 19 such wildlife areas, was a large amount for a state the size of Delaware.

It’s all about the mosquito and the future

Senator Tom Carper, (D-Del.) echoed many of the comments that said the whole point of preserving these lands is that people will get out and enjoy them today and in the future.  Senator Coons noted he and Carper had to leave right after the ceremony to return to Washington to vote on a series of bills to fund various governmental agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department.

So, while they made their way back to Washington it was left to those visiting the Ted Harvey Wildlife area to understand it’s true value.  Located a couple miles south east of Dover, the 2,700 acre tract of land is a key wildlife area for birds and a protection against mosquitoes.

“If we didn’t have these impoundment areas Dover would be eaten by mosquitoes,” Matt DiBona, wildlife biologist for the wildlife department, said.  He was describing a series of canals that are routinely flooded through a combination of pipes and tidal water that allow mosquito eating fish to come in and control that bug population.  It’s a balance of nature he worries about for the future.

“We have to decide if we are going to let these impoundments go back to sea level in the future or are they worth preserving through man-made means,” he said.  He spoke about a University of Delaware research project  that helps study water levels and their impact.  For example, he said when the marsh area is flooded it washes over grasses, which produce food for birds. “We need to know what would happen to those birds if this area was washed out to sea,” he said.  He added that water level takes are taken every 15 minutes through a series of PVC piping. 

But back to the more immediate business at hand.  DiBona said work is being done on the duck blinds that will be used for hunting season in a couple of weeks.  He says the fishing there is strong and hopes it will remain so for years to come.  

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.