State leaders celebrate completion of Mispillion Harbor habitat restoration

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Celebrating the completion of the Mispillion Harbor restoration were (left to right): DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, US Senator Tom Carper, US Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Vice President of Conservation Programs Eric Schwaab, and US Senator Chris Coons. DNREC photo

DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin was joined by U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester in marking the completion of the Mispillion Harbor restoration last week.

The three-year project restored the area in the wake of damage inflicted by a series of coastal storms including 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and built resiliency against future storms impacting the habitat.

Also joining the Secretary and the Congressional Delegation was U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Vice President of Conservation Programs Eric Schwaab.

Located east of Milford within the Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Mispillion Harbor is known worldwide for the high numbers of migrating shorebirds that stop there each spring to refuel by feeding on the eggs of spawning horseshoe crabs, with both species favoring the harbor’s sheltered sandy beaches and calm waters than other less-sheltered sites along Delaware’s Bayshore.

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The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) led the task of restoring balance to this critical habitat, as well as planning the restoration of the surrounding Milford Neck tidal marsh, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), The Nature Conservancy, and Delaware Wild Lands, with support from other conservation partners and local community members.

Federal funds totaling $5.8 million were paired with $2 million in state matching funds to complete restoration of Mispillion Harbor and to create a longer-term plan for restoring the integrity of Milford Neck’s marshlands and forest habitat.

“I want to commend everyone involved – the Congressional Delegation, theU.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and all of our other conservation partners– for their support in bringing this important project to completion,” said DNREC Secretary Garvin. “Through this partnership, we have restored one of the Delaware Bayshore’s most extraordinary places. Mispillion Harbor can now continue to provide safe haven to migrating shorebirds, including the threatened red knot, and to the spawning horseshoe crabs whose eggs fuel their long journey, as well as drawing visitors from around the world to observe the vital interaction of these species.”

“The funding that the congressional delegation worked hard to acquire for Delaware projects after Hurricane Sandy not only saved this area, but saved a part of Delaware’s tourism economy,” said Senator Tom Carper, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate. “That money was put to good use.”

In Mispillion Harbor, habitat restoration work began in 2016 and was completed this spring.

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