Spectacular in its own right, the Edward H. McCabe Nature Preserve features a wide range of habitats, plants and animals within a relatively small pocket of the Delmarva Peninsula. A native meadow, planted in spring 2016, has attracted pollinators like monarch butterflies and Eastern bluebirds.
While a roadside parking area provides access to hiking trails located on the preserve, arriving by canoe is the way to go for adventurous visitors. From two miles away in the historic town of Milton, explorers can put in their canoes and meander down the Broadkill River before heading ashore. Whether arriving by land or by river, visitors have the opportunity to really escape into a natural environment that gives true meaning to the word “preserve.”
TNC recently installed a new floating dock to provide even better access to the river. The publicly accessible dock is open for use by non-motorized watercraft, such as canoes and kayaks. Read about our new floating dock at the Edward H. McCabe Preserve from the Cape Gazette.
The McCabe Nature Preserve is a place where a slow and steady approach has yielded long term returns for TNC. Prior to ownership, material dredged from the river channel was deposited in a five-acre clearing located on the preserve. In 1996, TNC staff and volunteers planted this field with more than 2,000 native tree seedlings, including red and white oaks, green ash and black gum. Larger black cherry trees, indicative of earlier habitats, can be found near the center. Today, the emerging forest buffers sensitive wetland habitat from pollution and has begun welcoming an array of migratory songbirds.
What TNC Is Doing
TNC manages the preserve as a natural area, allowing controlled public use. Reforestation efforts over the years have improved habitat for many migratory songbirds and buffered sensitive wetlands from runoff.
In December 2018 TNC planted 9,000 native trees on 30 acres of former agricultural fields. An additional 2,700 trees will be planted on nine additional acres by volunteers in the spring of 2019. These 39 acres of former corn and soybean fields account for more than 25 percent of the land at the preserve. Native tree species that were planted include black oak, red oak, Pin oak, swamp white oak, white oak, chestnut oak, chokeberry, persimmon, dogwood, and black cherry. Eventually, new trails will be added to these areas.
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. An article about this tree planting project was written by the Cape Gazette.