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Center for Inland Bays touts success at Assawoman restoration project

A public-private partnership is working to protect and restore a newly public parcel of forests and wetlands in Sussex County. 

The state and the non-profit Delaware Center for Inland Bays recently announced the completion of a restoration project at the Assawoman Wildlife Area. 

The two entities planted 16,600 trees on 52 acres they purchased together back in 2019 at a cost of $390,000 to DNREC’s Open Space Program.

“The trees that we planted are growing extremely well, especially for those sandy soils out there,” said the Center’s Executive Director Chris Bason. “So we have some really good early success.”

Bason says the new trees will help clean the water and reduce flooding at the highly polluted Indian River.

“There was some marginal cropland out there and that cropland was leaking a significant amount of excess nutrients into the river, and by reforesting that we were able to stop that pollution from getting there,” he said. 

The Center notes the trees will help soak up about 250 lbs of excess nutrients that had been polluting the Indian River annually.

The land purchase extended the wildlife area by 11% to benefit species like the eastern box turtle and wood thrush.

Bason says he expects the state to add hunting blinds and trails to that parcel, and he adds the Center is pursuing more conservation projects in the Piney Neck area near Dagsboro.

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