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New nature center recommended in White Clay Creek State Park draft master plan

A new draft 10-year plan for White Clay Creek State Park calls for more outside partners providing recreational activities in underutilized park buildings and construction of a new nature center. 


It also includes trail projects, signage and programming changes, the addition of camping and the removal of the Polly Drummond Hill Road yard waste site. State parks officials presented the draft master plan for White Clay to community members Tuesday— where it received a mixed response. 

State Parks and Recreation director Ray Bivens says the master plan started with more than 60 recommendations. That list was narrowed to 10 priorities — the top one being the nature center.

“The current nature center is a historic building,” he said. “It’s not a great nature center. It’s also our day camp building. So we’re proposing using that to interpret the park but then creating a separate building like the Trap Pond nature center that can serve as a true nature center and a day camp building.”

Public input helped shape the priorities — with open houses held last summer and an online survey officials say received more than a thousand responses. 

But Desmond Kahn of the Coalition for Natural Stream Valleys said he felt his group’s comments were not considered. “We wanted to rebalance the use of the trails,” he said. “The large majority of them allow bicycles. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s not relaxing for a walker to be walking down the trail and suddenly a bunch of bicycles come at him.” 

Other meeting attendees criticized proposed road closures and the placement of the plan’s proposed new camping area near the Krantz Farm. 

But twelve-year-old Victoria Fuller supportings adding some camping opportunities to White Clay.  “We love [camping at] Lums Pond, but it’s always booked,” she said. 

Others spoke in favor of the plan’s top priority — construction of a new four-season educational building near the creek. 

The plan is still a work in progress with state officials estimating it could be six months or more before a final plan is adopted. 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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