Historic Broad Dyke Canal Property Conserved as Open Space

September 21, 2011
New Castle, Delaware

An historic 60-acre property at the confluence of the Delaware River and Broad Dyke Canal has been conserved as a new public natural area for the City of New Castle, Delaware, The Trust for Public Land and the city announced today.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church on the Green, which owned the land along Wilmington Road, was committed to seeing it sold for conservation. The church approached the city with the concept, and the city asked The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, for assistance. The protection of this property will preserve one of the few remaining large undeveloped acreages on the riverfront, ensuring that the forest and wetland habitats remain. The property has significant freshwater and saltwater wetlands, forested uplands, and tidal mudflats, providing habitat for numerous birds and aquatic species.

The church has owned this land since 1719 when it was bequeathed to the church in the will of Richard Halliwell, Sheriff of New Castle County and early Colonial leader. The church has used a portion of the property as a cemetery, but decided recently to see if they could sell the majority of the land.

"This a perfect opportunity to protect a large riverfront property and we are fortunate that it was in the church's ownership for nearly 300 years. Together with the church and our public agency partners, we are pleased the future stewardship of this land rests in the city's good hands," said Kent Whitehead, TPL project manager.

Creating the new public natural area will also offer New Castle the opportunity to extend the town's Riverwalk bike and pedestrian path over a quarter of a mile from the downtown area to the historic Glebe Farmhouse and Glebe Cemetery.

"The Broad Dyke Canal property will serve New Castle as an important component of our riverfront conservation efforts," said Cathryn Thomas, New Castle City Administrator. "Preservation of this incredible property This was a rare opportunity which we could not have achieved without the expertise and assistance of The Trust for Public Land to help see this through."

Funding for the $1.2 million purchase included $800,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant program and $400,000 from the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund.

"In addition to creating additional recreational opportunities, we are pleased to partner with the state, city and The Trust for Public Land to ensure that the valuable coastal wetlands and surrounding upland areas will remain undeveloped and permanently protected," said John Organ of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "These places provide critical habitat for a host of fish, wildlife and plant species."

"Protection of this 60-acre parcel will ensure long-term conservation of coastal wetland ecosystems which are critical to coastal fish and wildlife and their habitat," said Shelley Tovell, Environmental Scientist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Now that it has been acquired, the City of New Castle will own and manage the land as a natural area. The State of Delaware will hold a conservation easement over the property to ensure that it remains protected in accordance with the funding requirements.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Established in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 3 million acres across the nation. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission.