Murderkill Watershed Wetland Assessment

Located in Kent County, the Murderkill watershed covers 28,000 hectares (69,000 acres) within the Delaware Bay and Estuary Basin. This watershed contains many key natural heritage and wildlife habitats such as coastal plain streams and ponds, impoundments, wetlands and beach dunes. Rare wetland habitats including coastal plain ponds and bald cypress riverine patches are located in the watershed.

Research conducted by DNREC in 2008-2009 evaluated changes in wetland acreage and health in the Murderkill River watershed. A watershed comparison of pre-settlement state wetland inventory to present state wetland inventory shows a 38 percent loss in wetland acreage. Many of the remaining wetlands in this watershed have been altered by human activity and thus are not in perfect health.

Long-Term Goals

Wetlands in the Murderkill River watershed provide many benefits to people and wildlife that are an integral part of the landscape. The tidal and non-tidal wetlands in this area need help to successfully function.

Based on this study, several recommendations were made to improve management and encourage informed decision making. These included:

  1. Improve the protection of forested flat wetlands and other types of non-tidal wetlands through state and local regulations.
  2. Enhance the non-tidal wetland buffer regulations and codes to improve water quality, support wildlife habitat, and maintain flood water retention.
  3. Update tidal wetland regulatory maps to guide the state of Delaware on wetland permitting.
  4. Develop incentives to maintain natural buffers of tidal wetlands to provide protection from sea level rise and extreme storm events.
  5. Control the extent and spread of the non-native, invasive common reed (Phragmites australis).
  6. Improve enforcement of wetland permitting and mitigation monitoring.
  7. Design a wetland restoration plan for the Delaware Bay Basin that includes the Murderkill River watershed.
  8. Secure funding to implement a wetland restoration plan for the Murderkill River watershed.

Wetland Assessment Report

Learn more about the Murderkill River Watershed

Developing a Murderkill River Watershed Restoration Plan

The wetland assessment data garnered from this study will be used to design a restoration strategy for the Delaware Bay Watershed. The plan will be developed by an interagency team of scientists and managers.

Opportunities for both increasing wetland quality and quantity in target areas will be identified by integrating the data from the wetland monitoring and assessment program with data from other strategies and efforts.

For more information about the Condition Report, contact Alison Rogerson, at 302-739-9939.

A winter landscape featuring a small river, running between marshes and trees.