Smyrna Watershed Wetland Assessment

The Smyrna River watershed encompasses 71 square miles and is composed of three sub-watersheds: Smyrna River, Duck Creek, and Cedar Swamp-Delaware Bay. It is located partially in Kent County and partially in New Castle County. The watershed is within the Delaware Bay and Estuary Basin, so all of its waters drain into the Delaware Bay.

Land cover in this watershed is dominated by agriculture and wetlands. Of these wetlands, nearly half are saltwater, and the other half are freshwater. These wetlands are beneficial resources for people and wildlife.

Unfortunately, approximately 32% of historic wetland area in this watershed has been lost to conversion to development and agriculture.

Based on field data, wetlands in the Smyrna River watershed received an overall condition grade of B-, indicating that these wetlands are not functioning at their full potential. This also presents an opportunity for improvements through stewardship, conservation, and restoration.

Long-Term Goals

Even though the Smyrna watershed received an above average overall condition score, there is still room for improvement to these valuable ecosystems.

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

  1. Increase resiliency of tidal shorelines by installing living shorelines at appropriate sites.
  2. Support natural, vegetated buffers for tidal and non-tidal wetlands.
  3. Increase citizen education and outreach; inform landowners about the benefit wetlands provide and create a reachable understanding of how wetlands are relevant to the public.
  4. Control the extent and spread of non-native invasive plant species and continue to inform landowners about how to only plant native species.
  5. Conduct conservation and restoration activities to increase the overall health of the wetlands in the watershed.
  6. Improve protection of non-tidal wetlands through state, county, and local programs.
  7. Develop incentives and legislation to establish, maintain, or improve natural wetland buffers.

Wetland Assessment Report

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

Photo of a broad tidal stream bordered by tidal wetlands under an open sky with a few clouds.