Markell, Carper, Carney announce funding to restore Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Funding is part of $162 million investment to protect Atlantic Coast Communities from future storms

WILMINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper and U.S. Representative John Carney (both D-Del.) announced $19.8 million in federal funding to mitigate future storm damage and restore the marsh system at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge that has been significantly damaged in recent years by coastal storms, including Superstorm Sandy in 2012. 

Earlier today, the Department of the Interior announced that $162 million will be invested in 45 restoration and research projects to protect Atlantic Coast communities from future powerful storms.  The funding will be put toward restoring marshes, wetlands, and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching the impacts and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts.

The investment in the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge will be allocated from appropriations to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and is in addition to $20 million allocated in May to address dune breaches. The restoration will be done in accordance with the refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan.   

“This is good news, for which I thank the Fish and Wildlife Service and our congressional delegation,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “There is $20 million already allocated that will help fix the coastal breaches that have contributed to repeated flooding of Prime Hook Road and the community, and this new $20 million will allow for the marsh restoration that will restore valuable habitat and reduce flooding impacts. These projects will be of tremendous value in protecting our coastal resources from future storms.”

“Nearly one year ago, when Superstorm Sandy made landfall in Delaware, it tore through our communities, damaging roads, bridges, homes and businesses and compromising our protective beaches and dunes,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “I helped to lead an all-hands-on-deck effort to secure funding to not only help Delawareans recover from these impacts, but to rebuild smarter to help protect our coastal communities against future storms, which each year pack an even greater punch. I’m so pleased to hear this funding will be used to support this strategy – working to prevent future damage and protect lives from the havoc mother nature brings our way, as well saving taxpayers money in the long run.”

“Today’s announcement is good news for the residents of Prime Hook and the surrounding communities,” said Congressman Carney.  “This investment is an important part of creating a sustainable solution for the refuge, and those in the community whose lives are disrupted any time a storm hits the coastline.  I am hopeful that this project will better protect the Refuge from future storms and restore it as the ecologically diverse habitat that is so important for our state.”

Due to large dune breaches and severe flooding, the man-made freshwater marsh system at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge has converted to an open water system which no longer provides the same quality of habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife that are reliant on marshes and wetlands. 

In addition to the investment in the Prime Hook refuge, Delaware will also receive funding for assessments, modeling, coastal barrier mapping, and other projects to better inform federal, state, and local decision makers on the tools they need to improve resiliency and prepare for future storms.