Last year, we worked hand-in-hand with The Delaware Nature Society (DelNature) to provide grants of up to $10,000—$75,000 total—to municipalities, recreational authorities and nonprofits for projects focusing on open space preservation, improvements to parks and recreation resources, and environmental conservation. We got the chance to check in with one of our grant recipients, Delaware Wild Lands (DWL), to see how it used the funding to create a more nourishing and welcoming forested habitat for local wildlife.
“This project was very dear to my heart as it was meant to be a community celebration of Earth Day that would restore quality wildlife habitat and help mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Brenna Ness, director of Conservation Programs for Delaware Wild Lands. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had to figure out how we were going to plant 1,200 trees without the number of volunteers we anticipated having. We ultimately adapted our plans and successfully completed the project, thanks to a few of our closest friends and family.”
DWL used the Sustainable Grants funding to restore 2 acres of cropland to forested habitat at its Armstrong Preserve, near Middletown, Del. Volunteers installed tree tubes and planted 1,200 seedling trees, including native hardwood species like chestnut oak, red oak, pin oak, flowering dogwood, red maple and black gum. Delaware State Forest Service helped select species to match the composition of the surrounding forest habitat there.
This tract of land and other properties in the area are full of old growth coastal plain forests, agricultural lands, pollinator meadows, and freshwater marshes—serving as a host for diverse wildlife, including a growing population of sandhill cranes, herons and egrets, wood ducks and other waterfowl, woodpeckers, warblers, and other forest birds, as well as box turtles and tree frogs.
“I’m really excited to see what the site looks like 10 or 20 years from now,” Ness said. “I’m so proud of this project and all of the work we put into it. For me, the project will always serve as a reminder of the resiliency of nature, but also of the people who helped make it a reality during such an uncertain and scary time. I also hope the project will enhance habitat for interior forest birds and other native wildlife and protect air and water quality for the surrounding community.”
DWL was one of eight organizations selected in 2020 to receive grant funding for their environmentally focused project. For more information on this program or to submit a request for funding to complete your next environmentally focused project, visit us online at delmarva.com/SustainableCommunities.