Summer 2013 LEAF interns at Center for Horticulture in Wilmington.
DE LEAF Interns Center for Horticulture Summer 2013 LEAF interns at Center for Horticulture in Wilmington. ©: Skip Brown

Stories in Delaware

Urban Conservation

Using natural solutions so people and nature can thrive together.

The Nature Conservancy has established a global cities program and a network of 24 urban conservation programs in the U.S. with the goal of changing the relationship between cities and nature. We know using natural solutions to address many of the challenges facing urban areas can create more livable communities and a world where people and nature thrive together.

In Wilmington, our strategies include promoting nature-based solutions to address a wide variety of social and environmental challenges and demonstrating the efficacy of our projects through sound research and evaluation. We are also working to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and engage residents in citizen science research to improve water quality and the health of urban forests. Finally, we are working with the City and community partners to develop policies that tackle the challenge of making Wilmington a more sustainable place to live.

Trainees from Branches to Chances planted eight native trees during our first lot-greening effort in Wilmington's West City Center.
Wilmington Lot Greening Trainees from Delaware Center for Horticulture Branches to Chances program planted native trees during our first lot-greening effort in Wilmington's West City Center. © John Hinkson/TNC

Greening Wilmington

The Nature Conservancy recently partnered with the City of Wilmington, the Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH), Wilmington Neighborhood Conservancy Land Bank and Creative District Wilmington to clean and improve a vacant lot in West Center City using best practices in public greening.

“This joint effort is a wonderful example of people with a common objective coming together to help make Wilmington a cleaner, more attractive city, and also improve the quality of life for the residents of West Center City,” said Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki.

Work at the 5th and Madison Street lot began with DCH’s Branches to Chances trainees planting eight trees, generously donated by Mt. Cuba Center, and participants in the Challenge Program installed a wooden fence around the perimeter of the lot. The lot cleanup is the first of several greening projects scheduled for the West Center City area. “Working with partners we hope to turn vacant lots into productive uses the community desires,” says Maria Dziembowska, Director of Urban Conservation for The Nature Conservancy in Delaware. 

brandywine-creek
Brandywine Creek We are working throughout the Brandywine-Christina watershed to ensure clean drinking water Delaware's residents. © Devan King

Brandywine-Christina Revolving Water Fund

The Brandywine-Christina watershed provides over 100 million gallons daily to 500,000 area residents. Yet most of its waterways are unsafe for recreation and water treatment is costly. The Revolving Water Fund will coordinate the financing and prioritizing of conservation projects in the watershed—often at a cost far lower than traditional efforts. That’s good news to any area resident who turns on their drinking water tap.

Learn more about the Brandywine-Christina Revolving Water Fund.

South-Wilmington-Wetland-Park
South Wilmington Wetland Park A rendering of the South Wilmington Wetland Park shows how the area could look after wetlands are restored and trails are built. © City of Wilmington

South Wilmington Wetland Park

For several years, The Nature Conservancy has been supporting the City of Wilmington’s South Wilmington wetland restoration and park project. The $23.9 million South Wilmington Wetland Restoration and Conservation Project will help absorb excess water from major storms and high tides, which result in regular flooding of nearby roadways and, sometimes, the basements of homes in the neighborhood of Southbridge. Another result will be the creation of a community park with a multi-use trail that  encourages outdoor recreation and connect historic Southbridge with neighborhoods and amenities to the west of the park.

A citizen scientist from the Stream Stewards program samples water in the Beaver Valley unit of First State National Historical Park nearin Wilmington, Delaware.
Citizen scientist A citizen scientist from the Stream Stewards program samples water in the Beaver Valley unit of First State National Historical Park nearin Wilmington, Delaware. © Kim Hachadoorian/TNC

Connecting People and Nature—Stream Stewards

Stream Stewards is a program designed to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in taking care of their waterways. Adult volunteers are invited to sign up for a series of training sessions and actively participate in monitoring the water quality of streams that flow through First State National Historical Park to Brandywine Creek. A curriculum is being developed for students and their families to become engaged in water quality monitoring near their schools and homes in Wilmington. Participants will learn about stewardship opportunities for improving the health of their watersheds, and contributing to conservation action in their communities. 

Developing Future Conservation Leaders

Every summer, The Nature Conservancy offers Wilmington area high school students the opportunity to participate in the Leaders of Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) internship program. The selected group of interns spend four weeks working alongside staff at TNC and partnering organizations, gaining valuable hands-on experience in a variety of conservation projects. TNC’s LEAF program has been hugely successful. Nationally, 34% of LEAF interns go on to be college science majors versus 6% of the general college going population and 52% of LEAF interns go on to volunteer for environmental causes versus 2% in the general student population.