Prime Hook Closes Three Miles of Waterway - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Prime Hook Closes Three Miles of Waterway

MILTON, De. - A three mile area of the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge is closing indefinitely due to sediment buildup. Those in charge of the refuge blocked off the main of four boat access points, saying that the water was simply too shallow to navigate safely. 

Suzy Ball, a volunteer for Prime Hook explained to WBOC why the decision was made.

"Basically this has silted in over the winter," she said. "And so there's not enough depth to put in kayaks or canoes here." 

Al Rizzo, the complex manager said that this shallow water is due to a trio of issues. First of all, he said the heavy winds have pushed a lot of the water away from the easternmost side of Prime Hook. Second of all, he said April has been a relatively dry month, leading to less of a moisture build-up in the waterways. 

Lastly, Rizzo said there were some man-made causes for the problems. They purposely restrict the amount of water that flows throughout the entire refuge so that the various birds in the area can have access to the muddy floor at the base. This however has also opened the door for the shallow waters. 

"This has been developing over time," he said. "This isn't brand new. It's just gotten to a point where it's a safety issue now."

Three boat access points remain open at Prime Hook, and the great majority of the waterway is still accessible. The closest pier to the one that was shut down is just a quarter mile away, where the water is deep enough for boat navigation. Rizzo said that the goal was to have the closed off area opened back up by this fall for duck hunting season, when boaters flock to the area.

However Rizzo said that the closure is more than just a possible inconvenience for boaters. He said the shallow water can create havoc for aquatic life. If it's not contained, he said it can literally suffocate fish in the waterway. 
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