Habitat acreage preserved in Delaware

A private-public-nonprofit partnership has preserved 225 acres of land that are critical for wildlife habitat and air and water quality now and into the future. This property – the Fortner Farm – “is widely recognized for its exceptional natural resources and is multi-dimensional in value. This project and partnership are securing habitat for sensitive and threatened species, protecting our agricultural heritage, and preserving vital tidal wetlands and freshwater wetlands,” said Delaware Wild Lands’ Executive Director Kate Hackett in a press release.

Identified by Delaware Wild Lands and other organizations and agencies as a priority for protection since the 1980s, the Fortner Farm is located in rapidly developing southern New Castle County and will be managed as part of DWL’s 1,300-acre Augustine Creek Complex. A multitude of migratory and resident waterfowl, birds, and wildlife will benefit from this project, including flagship species such as American black duck, Black rail, and Saltmarsh sparrow as well as countless other species of mammals, reptiles, insects, and fish. This property also supports the first confirmed population of resident Sandhill cranes in the State of Delaware.

Augustine Creek and the marsh “fingers” that run in and around the Fortner Farm increase the ratio of land contributing directly to local waterways, making protection of this property especially important for improving water quality in one of Delaware’s most rapidly developing areas. Nearly 90% of all water bodies in the state are too polluted to meet their designated uses. Nearby Middletown experienced a 266 percent population growth between 2000 and 2018, making it the fastest-growing area in Delaware.

A broad coalition of interested and committed families and individuals contributed to this project, and DWL is grateful for the transformational leadership and support of New Castle County — which purchased a permanent conservation easement on this land) — Mt. Cuba Center, Delaware Ornithological Society, and many community members who value the iconic character and wildlife of the Augustine Creek watershed and the State of Delaware.

About half of Fortner Farm is mixed habitat for wildlife, including coastal woodlands, old-growth forests, upland, and tidal marshes, rolling fields, and swales, and the other half is farmland. The Fortner Family was pleased to forever protect this land and had long hoped that their family land could be preserved.

DWL plans to expand and restore the marsh and upland habitats to improve water quality and species diversity. It also plans to work with Ducks Unlimited to improve waterfowl and bird habitat and partner with the Delaware Ornithological Society to offer bird tours. The acquisition will enable DWL to expand partnerships with the University of Delaware, Ducks Unlimited, scout troops, the Delaware Ornithological Society, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, and others to expand research projects and educational opportunities.



1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.