The Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy gratefully acknowledged Sussex County Council for its recent decision on Aug. 18, 2009, to contribute $58,325 toward the purchase of 25 acres in the Nanticoke River Watershed.
The 25-acre parcel of farmland and forest along Hastings Farm Road, northeast of Seaford, is adjacent to the Conservancy’s 440-acre Middleford North Preserve and its inclusion in the preserve will further protect habitat and ensure that unspoiled lands remain along the banks of the Gravelly Branch of the Nanticoke River.
Sussex County’s action followed a recommendation by the non-profit Sussex County Land Trust, which advises the County on preservation efforts. The County’s contribution will pay for half of the purchase; the Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy will pay for the rest.
Roger L. Jones, Jr., State Director of The Nature Conservancy applauded the County’s decision, to join TNC in the important work of protecting critical areas and fragile habitat.
Jones said, “The Delaware Chapter of The Nature Conservancy is pleased to be able to partner with Sussex County Council to permanently protect land containing important wildlife habitat near Seaford in the Nanticoke River watershed, one of the Conservancy's priority areas, We greatly appreciate the County’s support. The protection of this tract continues our joint commitment to preserve important wildlife habitats in the Nanticoke River watershed.”
Wendy O. Baker, president of the Sussex County Land Trust, said the property to be purchased is in a prime location, as it falls within her organization’s goal to create a Grand Preservation Loop, a string of protected properties link throughout the county.
The Middleford North Preserve is a mixed pine-oak forest with a high quality Atlantic white cedar swamp known to contain state and globally rare species and communities. The preserve protects a wild and scenic river corridor. High quality floodplain and upland forests, riverine wetlands, and Atlantic white cedar swamps provide habitat to more than a dozen species considered to be globally or locally imperiled. The additional 25 acres will provide an important buffer to this tract on the Gravelly Branch—a small stream that helps to form the headwaters of the Nanticoke River, which is considered to be one of the most productive tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay.
Sussex County Council President, President Vance C. Phillips also praised the Council decision, by saying, “Once again, Sussex County is demonstrating its fervent commitment to preserving open space for our children and their children. Through partnerships such as this, both government and private citizens can play a vital role in retaining for ourselves and our posterity this beautiful place we’re so blessed to call home.”
The opportunity to add the 25-acre buffer to the Middleford Preserve tract results from Jeannette Rogers’ very generous offer of sale on this property. With the support of Sussex County and individual contributors, TNC will help to fulfill Mrs. Rogers’ commitment to conservation and her interest in protecting this important landscape. Mrs. Rogers and her sister, Mrs. Mary Louise Spicer, also previously sold to the Conservancy adjoining parcels near the Preserve in 1998. These three parcels together are part of a century farm owned by Jeanette Rogers’ family.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.