232 Acres for Prime Hook Refuge (DE)

Sussex County, Delaware, 6/19/2001: Yesterday, 232 acres of prime wildlife habitat were added to the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge through an agreement negotiated by the Trust for Public Land. The purchase of the land from a private owner transferred the property to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for inclusion in the refuge, protecting wildlife habitat, including that of the endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel, and providing recreational opportunities. Funding for the project was secured from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund through the efforts of the Delaware congressional delegation.

Located between State Route 1—a busy thoroughfare for beachgoers—and the refuge, this property serves as a buffer that will help ensure that encroaching development does not harm the integrity of the natural resources at the refuge.

“We are pleased that we were able to meet the needs of the landowner while also providing an important piece of land for habitat and recreation to the refuge,” said Lynda Frost, field representative for the Trust for Public Land. “The strong support of Senator Joseph Biden, Congressman Mike Castle and especially former senator Bill Roth was critical to the success of this project.”

Just north of the Delaware beach resorts, the 9,000-acre Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge protects critical wetlands, open and wooded uplands, and estuarine areas along the Delaware Bay. Each year, more than 75,000 visitors come to the refuge to witness the bird migrations and enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing, boating, hiking, wildlife observation and photography.

The forested part of the property is home to the Delmarva fox squirrel, an endangered species reintroduced to the refuge in 1985 to expand the population of this native species. The refuge consists mostly of freshwater and tidal marshlands and was originally established in 1963 to preserve coastal wetlands as wintering and breeding grounds for migrating neotropical songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl such as black duck, wood duck and snow geese. The refuge also protects the habitat of the horeshoe crab, red-bellied and painted turtles, spring peepers, crickets and bullfrogs, red-backed salamanders and American and Fowler toads. Refuge staff has worked actively to restore more than 4,000 acres of its wetlands

“This acquisition is very valuable to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. It will provide access for public use opportunities and will help us meet our habitat goals for endangered species and trust resource species,” said Barron Crawford, project leader for the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

This is the second refuge acquisition completed by the Trust for Public Land. In 1998, TPL facilitated the refuge’s first acquisition in more than 10 years, a 22-acre parcel in Slaughter Beach at the north end of the refuge.

The Trust for Public Land is a national non-profit land conservation organization that specializes in conservation real estate, working with willing sellers and applying its expertise in negotiation, public finance, and law to protect land for people. TPL conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in communities and to protect natural and historic resources for future generations. Founded in 1972, and based in San Francisco, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres of land valued at $1.8 billion.