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DNREC reinstates fees and passes for state parks

Delaware Public Media

Free access to state parks and beaches ends this week.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced Wednesday that passes once again must be purchased to gain access starting Friday.

Fees and passes were suspended in March to encourage Delawareans to remain active outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.


But fees make up more than 65 percent of state park operating costs, and DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said parks lost nearly $1.2 million dollars since they were lifted in March. 

Daily and seasonal passes can be purchased online or at park kiosks.  Garvin says DNREC’s Assistance Pass Program is extended to those on unemployment to help make the parks more affordable for them.

“They can go into our website, click on the Assistance Pass Program, scroll through the bottom, and then, there’s a form to fill out if you are on unemployment right now to get a discounted pass,” Garvin said. 

Garvin adds social distancing practices will remain in effect.

“For safety and public health reasons, we’ll still have bathrooms closed,” Garvin said.  “We’re still encouraging people to come in off-peak hours to not necessarily stay as long giving other opportunities for people to experience the park safely.  You’re required to bring a mask with you.” 

Garvin says there will be parking lot closures for certain periods.  He noted those measures are usually reserved for the peak holidays like the Fourth of July.

When fees and passes return Friday, visitors must be able to present their receipts or passes.