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Climate change priorities featured in DNREC's funding request


Delaware’s natural resources department seeks funding to further the state’s climate change resiliency goals.

State budget officials are hearing from more government agencies during their last week of public hearings; agencies are outlining their funding requests before staff begin crafting Gov. Carney’s recommended 2023 budget.

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is seeking a $400,000 increase in general funds, an increase it says meets the state’s projected economic growth. DNREC received over $1.4 million more last year.

DNREC secretary Shawn Garvin says many of their requests help advance goals outlined in the new Delaware Climate Action Plan, including a new position focusing on environmental justice.

“Kinda been able to work with existing positions but as we’re looking to increase diversity and inclusion of staff and our volunteer bodies — as we’re trying to build greater relationships with our underrepresented and overburdened communities, I really feel that a high priority is having a position, an environmental justice coordinator that can help us across the entire department to ensure that environmental justice is part of our DNA,” Garvin said.

On top of DNREC’s major requests, Garvin laid out an additional $1.3 million in projects addressing everything from zero waste initiatives, database management and further help with park maintenance.

Garvin says a major priority is more staff to help out with park maintenance.

“We’ve seen a 70% increase in visitations over the past 12 years,” he said. “And an immense jump during the pandemic — and while that’s a great thing and we love that we have new people coming out and visiting our parks and taking advantage of that; that also puts more stress on the parks and the maintenance of the parks.”

Garvin is asking for $100,000 to cover two new positions across the state.

DNREC also outlined over $80 million in capital project funding. Projects that would use those funds; include a new nature center at the White Clay Creek state park and finishing renovations taking place at the Biden Environmental Training Center on Cape Henlopen.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

This story has been updated to correct a name misspelling.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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