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Delaware invests $26M in White Clay park expansion

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White Clay Creek State Park

Delaware’s second-largest state park will complete its 275-acre land acquisition in late 2024. | PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA

DOVER – White Clay Creek State Park will grow more than 7% after the state has signed a deal to acquire 275 acres for $26 million.

The funding includes $19.5 million from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Open Space Program, $6 million from The Conservation Fund, and $500,000 from the Walmart’s Acres for America program. 

Gov. John Carney said the expansion will meet the growing population demands and facilitate additional recreational opportunities. 

“This acquisition allows us to provide those experiences and preserve Delaware’s open spaces. It represents the largest investment and private partner contributions to a DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation project in the Open Space Program’s history,” he said in a statement.

The Fiscal Year 2023 budget included a $20 million provision for the DNREC Open Space Program to acquire the 275 acres. The program coordinates land acquisitions to preserve and expand state parks and preserves, fish and wildlife areas, state forests, and cultural resource sites. Since 1990, the program has acquired more than 45,000 acres with state, federal, and partner funds.

In three phases, the second-largest state park in Delaware at more than 3,600 acres will acquire three parcels of privately owned land around the park. The initial phase concluded in September, when the state acquired 95 acres near Pleasant Hill Road from Sabrina du Pont-Langenegger, the heiress to the late William du Pont, according to county land records.

A second phase is set to be acquired in early 2024 while a third phase is scheduled for acquisition in late 2024. 

“This expansion of White Clay Creek State Park is part of DNREC’s commitment to preserving and conserving Delaware’s natural resources for current and future generations,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement.

The Conservation Fund by the Mt. Cuba Center, a Hockessin conservation foundation, marks the new acreage as crucial support for native species that depend on the park’s forest.

“Communities of native plants, migrating and nesting birds, and many other species rely on White Clay Creek’s woodlands, stream valleys and ridges,” said Ann C. Rose, Mt. Cuba Center’s president.

The $500,000 grant was awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Walmart partnered program, Walmart’s Acres for America, and was the first time the program funded a project in Delaware. 

“White Clay Creek provides important habitat for hundreds of species, including those that live in and around the creeks and forests year-round, but also for migratory songbirds that might only visit for a few days on their annual migration up and down the eastern U.S.,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “Through Walmart’s Acres for America program, NFWF is proud to support this important project, where people will have the opportunity to connect with nature and will benefit from increased recreational opportunities.”


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