Delaware and Maryland Forge Bi-State Approach to Protect and Restore the Nanticoke River
Governor Minner Commends a Focus on Stewardship and Maryland Governor O’Malley’s Shared Watershed Goals
PHILLIPS LANDING . . . Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary John A. Hughes and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin met in Vienna, Md. and traveled by boat to Phillips Landing, Del. today to sign an agreement to support a bi-state effort to ensure long-term stewardship of the Nanticoke River – a premier component of the newly established Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner joined the event at Phillips Landing in support of the initiative. “I applaud the comprehensive efforts of our two state natural resource agencies and partners to join in this historic agreement to ensure the enduring legacy of the Nanticoke River,” remarked Governor Minner. “The entire Nanticoke region is rich in cultural and heritage assets and I know Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley shares our goal of stewardship and wise use of this beautiful river and surrounding lands.”
“Working together with the state of Delaware, we are forging an exciting new partnership to protect the unique, rare ecological resources and agricultural economy of the Nanticoke River watershed,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “I’d like to recognize Governor Minner for her terrific leadership on this effort. It is only by working together – from state to state, local elected officials to non-profit conservation organizations, federal agencies to local businesses – that we will make progress to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for current and future generations.”
The Nanticoke River flows through a region that hosts some of the most biologically diverse natural habitats including maritime forests, expansive Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress wetlands, and globally rare plant and wildlife species.
The river is approximately 63 miles long from its headwaters in Sussex County, Del. to its mouth at Tangier Sound, Dorchester County, Md. and is the largest Chesapeake Bay tributary on the Delmarva Peninsula. It is revered for its surrounding landscape and its appearance, which is very similar to the time when Captain Smith explored the river 400 years ago in June 1608.
Joining Secretary Hughes and Secretary Griffin in the partnership agreement were Charlie Stek, president of the Friends of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail and John Maounis, superintendent, Captain John Smith Trail and Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, National Parks Service.
“Protecting the habitat and natural heritage of this graceful, distinctive river is a goal we heartily share with Maryland,” said Secretary Hughes. “Our agreement recognizes the exceptional and largely unspoiled nature of this ecological resource, and underscores the need to collaborate with federal and local governments and our conservation partners to maintain and enhance its diversity and recreational opportunities.”
Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, the State of Maryland has undertaken several new initiatives to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and to protect our natural and cultural resources,” said Secretary Griffin. “This agreement identifies projects and initiatives upon which we will work together to achieve our shared vision for a healthy and productive Nanticoke River.
Collaborative projects will include a Nanticoke River Water Trail map and guide; brochure on the river’s history, heritage and culture; both land and water conservation stewardship; and promotion of “citizen scientists” as water quality and wetlands stewards.
At the request of DNREC, the National Park Service is designating the Nanticoke River as a Connector Gateway in the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail will be most fully experienced by watercraft and at water access sites.
“A second site in Delaware has been added to the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network – the Nanticoke River Water Trail. Delaware is a key partner in providing public use of the river, an understanding of trail history, and an appreciation of Captain John Smith Trail resources,” said John Maounis, National Park Service superintendent for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail and Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Charlie Stek, president of the Friends of the Captain John Smith Trail, commended the Maryland and Delaware Departments and the National Park Service for creating the agreement. “This agreement represents a major step toward achieving the vision of the John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. It will provide opportunities for cooperative conservation, eco-tourism and recreation, education and stewardship, which will protect the Nanticoke and help keep it the beautiful river John Smith first explored.”
DNREC, Md. DNR, Friends of the John Smith Trail and the National Parks Service will work with the towns of Seaford, Blades, Laurel and towns in Maryland, with the Nanticoke Indian Association, with Nanticoke Watershed Alliance, tourism and heritage and ecotourism groups, Conservancy groups, businesses and residents to achieve the goals for a healthy and productive Nanticoke River.
Visit DNREC’s website www.dnrec.delaware.gov to view the Nanticoke Partnership Agreement.