The Nature Conservancy in Delaware recently received funds from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control that will be used to restore 39 acres of forest at the Conservancy’s Edward H. McCabe Preserve.

The restoration project is designed to improve the quality of water moving into the Broadkill River through the elimination of agricultural runoff and groundwater transfer of nutrients into the river. The native tree species selected for the project will create new habitat for wildlife, including migratory birds.

Richie Jones, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Delaware, said this forest restoration will be the biggest improvement project undertaken at McCabe since the property was donated by Constance P. McCabe to the Conservancy in 1993.

The funding for this project comes from an agreement between DNREC and Purdue Foods related to wastewater issues that occurred at Purdue’s Georgetown plant in 2015.

The tree planting project is scheduled to occur in fall 2018, after the final crop has been harvested by the current famer who leases the 39 acres of cropland. Weed control will be implemented as needed throughout the first two growing seasons of the project to reduce competition with planted native species and improve overall survivorship.

The 143-acre McCabe Preserve, owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, is situated east of Milton on lands along the Broadkill River within the Round Pole Branch subwatershed. The preserve contains a range of Delaware ecosystems, including tidal marshes, upland forests and Atlantic white cedar swamp. The diverse landscape also supports more than 100 species of migratory and nesting birds including waterfowl, raptors and songbirds. The Broadkill River snakes along Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and the Great Marsh before it reaches the Delaware Bay, near Lewes.

The Edward H. McCabe Preserve is one of the conservancy’s two public preserves located in Delaware.

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