CIB: Well-maintained parks important for the Inland Bays
We are all fortunate to have so much public land around the Inland Bays. In fact, there are seven areas managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks within the bays’ watershed, including: Fenwick Island, Holts Landing, Fresh Pond, Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen State Parks; and the Thompson Island and Angola Neck Preserves. The benefits to our community provided by these areas are central to the quality of life on the coast.
State parks are refuges, not just for people, but for the plants and animals that live near the Bays. Coastal forests and wetlands of the parks provide clean water and healthy habitats for fish, crabs, turtles and birds.
These lands need maintenance to continue providing such beneficial services. Managing human use of the parks, restoring eroding shorelines and controlling invasive plant species are necessary to maintain these beautiful properties.
The parks also provide access to the water for clamming, fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming or kiteboarding. These activities connect people with the water; they allow young people the opportunity to understand what lives in the bays and how they provide for us. The parks system also provides educational opportunities for those of all ages that would like to learn about the bays.
Delaware has not raised park fees in over 10 years, despite significant reductions in support from the State’s general fund. Entrance fees for the parks are now on average 37 percent lower than nearby states. The parks system is facing an astounding $100 million backlog in maintenance and capital projects.
As the human use and environmental stress to these areas from sea-level rise increases, it is now critical to invest in our parkland. Parkland supports clean water, unlimited recreational opportunities and Delaware’s nearly $7 billion coastal economy. I urge you to support your State Parks and the very fair increase in fees that has been proposed to keep them healthy and accessible into the future.
Chris Bason, Executive Director
Delaware Center for the Inland Bays