DNREC lists properties acquired through Open Space Program

The DNREC Open Space Program, guided by the Delaware Open Space Council, coordinates the acquisition of each of these parts of the landscape by expanding state parks and preserves, fish and wildlife areas, state forests and cultural resource sites. These management areas include some of the finest examples of Delaware’s diverse natural and cultural heritage. Open Space Program Assawoman, Wildlife, Open Space Program, DNREC, Land, The Timmons Property, Piney Neck, Roman-Foley acquisition, Fork Branch Nature Preserve

Above photo: Principal Chief Dennis Coker, Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, talks with DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin during a tour. /DNREC photo.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is listing properties acquired through the state’s Open Space Program.

Since 2022, DNREC has added 597 acres to the nearly 45,000 acres the department previously acquired through the program with combined state, federal, and partner funds.

“The Delaware Open Space Program supports our conservation work with funding and donations to help us fill in crucial gaps with easements and acquisitions – one piece at a time – between protected properties,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “These properties may be as small as an acre or a hundred times that size but serve the same purpose connecting Delaware’s protected lands, wetlands and waterways, which often may be vital habitat for our state’s threatened or endangered species. These lands also support active outdoor recreation, from hunting and fishing to birdwatching and hiking trails.”

DNREC manages 17 state parks, 20 wildlife areas and dozens of public recreation access areas including trails, overlooks, boardwalks, fishing piers and boat ramps.


Over the past year, the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation added seven new properties in key locations, totaling approximately 254 acres:

  • Jaggers Conservation Easement – About 9 acres of wooded land adjoining the James Branch Nature Preserve and adjacent to Trap Pond State Park is included in the February 2022 easement. The property expands the protected lands within the James Branch watershed.
  • Rocky Run Ventures LLC Property – Two acres in New Castle purchased in May 2022 expanded Brandywine Creek State Park and protects forest land.
  • The Lenape Conservation Easement – A conservation easement on 11 acres in Kent County was donated in June 2022 by The Conservation Fund. The easement protects land adjacent to Delaware State Parks’ Fork Branch Nature Preserve. In addition, The Conservation Fund donated the ownership rights to the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware. The Lenape have been working on the the land through the removal of invasive species.
  • Ward Property – 39 acres in Sussex County purchased in July 2022 expanded Trap Pond State Park and protected land adjacent to the James Branch Nature Preserve. With this property saved from development, there will not be a threat of failing onsite wastewater treatment systems discharging into Pepper Branch, a tributary of James Branch that connects with the Nanticoke River.
  • Greenly Property – 98 acres purchased in Kent County in February expanded Killens Pond State Park and helped protect the corridor between Killens Pond and Browns Branch. Forested wetlands on this property provide imperative habitat for the federally-listed endangered plant species Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata).
  • DelDOT Custodial Resolution – 10 acres of wetlands in Kent County transferred in March to DNREC from DelDOT expanded Fork Branch Nature Preserve in Dover.
  • Jestice Property – Trap Pond State Park was expanded in March through the purchase of an additional 85 acres of agricultural and forest land in Sussex County. Protecting these forested wetlands that flow downstream into the James Branch Nature Preserve helps ensure healthy water quality.

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife also added six new properties, totaling approximately 343 acres, improving public access, protecting sensitive areas and expanding and connecting existing wildlife areas.

  • Meyer Property – 155 acres in Kent County purchased in May 2022 expanded and improved public access to the Blackiston Wildlife Area in northwestern Kent County.
  • Cataldi Property – 166 acres in northeastern Kent County purchased in August 2022 expanded the Tony Florio Woodland Beach Wildlife Area near Smyrna. The forested wetland includes tidal wetlands and freshwater ponds that will be maintained.
  • Fortney Property – Four acres in Kent County purchased in September 2022 expanded the Tappahanna Wildlife Area and provided increased public access to existing state-owned lands.
  • Duffy Property – Four acres purchased in New Castle County in October 2022 expanded and connected two tracts of the Eagles Nest Wildlife Area and helped protect forested wetlands.
  • Shockley Property – 13 acres in Sussex County acquired in December 2022 via donation expanded the Assawoman Wildlife Area and helped protect tidal marsh in Assawoman Bay.
  • Ewing Property – One crucial acre in Kent County purchased in February gave the state ownership of the access road and adjacent lake frontage on the north side of Garrisons Lake. DNREC previously had only an access easement.

DNREC is one of several partner agencies with the Delaware Open Space Program, which also includes the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and the Department of State Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. More information is available at de.gov/openspace.

The Lenape Conservation Easement and other DNREC Open Space properties are also featured in a new article, Exploring Delaware’s Open Spaces, published in Outdoor Delaware online magazine.