Gov. Carney Announces New Aquatic Education Center - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Gov. Carney Announces New Aquatic Education Center

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Photo: DNREC Photo: DNREC
Photo: DNREC Photo: DNREC
Photo: DNREC Photo: DNREC
Photo: DNREC Photo: DNREC

SMYRNA, Del. - In celebration of Earth Week, Governor John Carney announced the new Aquatic Resources Education Center, the extension of Delaware’s Bayshore Byway and an outdoor interpretive area.   Carney was joined Monday by U.S. Senator Chris Coons, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin and other federal, state, and other community leaders.

The new Aquatic Resources Education Center replaces the older facility located on the edge of the Delaware Bay marsh east of Smyrna.

“Delaware’s Bayshore Region is a unique destination for ecotourism and outdoor recreation, strengthening the economy and attracting Delawareans and visitors alike to experience the wilder side of our state’s natural beauty,” said Governor Carney. “That’s why I’m pleased to announce these accomplishments that enhance the Bayshore as a valuable tourism destination. These milestones help ensure we and future generations will more fully enjoy all the benefits the Bayshore has to offer.”

According to the DNREC, the Delaware Bayshore Initiative enhances and promotes the region as a world-class conservation and low-impact recreation area, strengthens local communities and improves the quality of life for Delawareans. The initiative received recognition from the U.S. Department of the Interior as one of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect America to the natural world.

“As we celebrate Earth Week, it is fitting that we are here in the scenic Delaware Bayshore to announce the opening of the new Aquatic Resources Education Center, an ideal location for connecting adults and children with nature and providing meaningful educational and outdoor experiences,” said Shawn M. Garvin, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “The center is not only an environmental educational facility for Delaware students, it’s also a major highlight of the Bayshore Byway.”

Formally launched in 2015, the Delaware Bayshore Byway follows Route 9 starting in historic New Castle, winds along Delaware’s river and bay shoreline through coastal marshes and forests, fields and farms,  coastal communities and recreational and historic sites. The extension announced Monday extends the byway from Kitts Hummock south of Dover to the City of Lewes and the Historic Lewes Byway. 

Funding for the construction of the new Aquatic Resources Education Center and site improvements and development of the interpretive signs were provided through state funds and a Federal Highway Administration Scenic Byway Grant. Funding to support programs, operations and maintenance at the center is provided, in part, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program.

The new center is a hands-on education facility dedicated to Delaware’s wetlands, waterways and aquatic wildlife. The center includes a new indoor classroom and new indoor and outdoor interpretive exhibits that complement the already-existing outdoor classrooms, a 940-foot saltmarsh boardwalk, eco-stations, and nature trails

In addition, a new Bayshore Byway interpretive area features a kiosk with maps and information about the Delaware Bayshore Byway, information about youth fishing and fish identification, and a trail that includes a series of new educational signs highlighting the natural and cultural history of the area.

“DelDOT is pleased to collaborate with DNREC and the Byway partners to enhance outdoor recreation and education opportunities along the Delaware Bayshore Byway, and appreciates the support of the Federal Highway Administration for the funds they awarded for this project,” said Jennifer Cohan, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation.

Two Boy Scouts from Troop 283 in Newark were recognized for their contributions to the new center through their Eagle Scout projects. Joshua Nicholls led the effort to build the center’s rain garden, and Corey O’Donnell built the custom benches and picnic tables for the center’s patio area. Also recognized were the Zakat Foundation Water Miners, who donated their hand-painted rain barrel to the new patio area. Led by Irfan Patel, youth members contributed their creative talents to the aquatic-themed design, which earned first prize in DNREC’s 2015 Youth Rain Barrel Painting Contest.

Two longtime AREC staff members also were honored. AREC’s main loop trail was dedicated to the memory of “Captain” Bob Jones, who co-coordinated the center’s programs for 15 years, guiding countless youth to the joy of catching their first fish, mentoring interns and staff, and training hundreds of teachers, all in his own unique style. AREC’s main fishing pond was named in honor of retired Fisheries Biologist Cathy Martin, who worked more than 40 years for the Division of Fish & Wildlife and shared her knowledge and passion with several generations of students and visitors.

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