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DNREC adopts White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan, including plans for a new Nature Center

DNREC’s newly adopted master plan for White Clay Creek State Park in Newark includes a new nature center and more.

DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation created the plan which provides a vision and framework for the park’s future.

Matthew Ritter is administrator for Delaware State Park’s planning, preservation and development section. He says the plan was shaped by feedback received from 1,200 people.

“White Clay is a park that has a lot of interests from a number of user groups," Ritter said. "So we wanted to really capture the community surrounding the park but also all the user groups that frequent the park. And when our staff was doing that they really discovered that things could be categorized or grouped and themed. So we created 10 strategies to accomplish what we feel should be our direction for the next 10 years.”

The number one strategy identified is improving the White Clay Creek Nature Center area to meet the demand of daily and weekly programs and the relocation of the park office to the historic Maxwell House.

Ritter notes that the area around the Nature Center is heavily used by school groups and day camps so a newer and bigger structure is needed.

“The strategies were developed based on the needs of the Park, the interests of the organization and the interests of the user groups," said Ritter. "It also took into account other elements - like historic structures, cost, feasibility and those kinds of things. So the number one strategy that was identified was the Nature Center and programming complex.”

DNREC received $300,000 in the state’s most recent Bond Bill to start planning a Nature Center Complex. It is requesting additional funding for the projected $4.5 million cost to build-out the Nature Center.

White Clay Creek State Park offers 3,689 acres of scenic and recreational open space and nearly 40 miles of trails in northern Delaware.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.