Delaware Wetland Restoration Strategies

Wetlands across the state of Delaware face many challenges. However, there are opportunities to combat specific issues and to restore and protect Delaware’s wetland resources. The DNREC Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program is developing strategies, specific to Delaware’s different watersheds, to identify and pursue those opportunities.

The wetland restoration strategies will help guide state and local efforts and provide a basis around which to build the partnerships and collaboration that will be needed to move forward with wetland restoration.

Inland Bays Wetland Strategy

The Inland Bays watershed drains more than 210,000 acres of land in southern Delaware. According to Delaware’s 2017 Statewide Wetland Mapping Project (SWMP), nearly 59,000 acres of the basin are wetlands. This represents 20% of all of Delaware’s wetlands.

The primary purpose of this strategy is to identify key tactics to address specific issues affecting tidal wetlands, non-tidal wetlands, and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Inland Bays watershed. The strategy also identifies priority areas on public land where these tactics could be implemented.

This watershed strategy is a result of wetland condition assessments, GIS analysis and input from a diverse audience of local stakeholders. It can be cited by organizations to help justify wetland or SAV restoration projects in the Inland Bays. Restoration includes creation, enhancement, rehabilitation, and preservation of wetland areas.

Goals and Objectives

The Strategy explores the major challenges that wetlands and SAV face in the Inland Bays watershed, and presents the restoration strategy by habitat type, restoration tactic, and tasks matching themes from the 2021-2025 Wetland Program Plan.

The tactics include:

  • Installing living shorelines
  • Increasing beneficial use of dredge material
  • Restoring natural hydrology
  • Preserving wetlands with easements or land acquisition
  • Controlling invasive plants species such as Phragmites
  • Improving land-use planning
  • Practicing reforestation and sustainable forestry
  • Performing and encouraging direct and indirect restoration of wetlands
  • Building partnerships and securing support for wetland protection and restoration

Many organizations that work in the Inland Bays do not have concrete wetland or SAV-related goals or plans. This document can serve as a starting point for such organizations to understand the current state of these areas and potential collaboration opportunities to combat the biggest issues.