Delaware Bay, Redden Forest Get Potential Shot in the Arm

Environmental Projects Would Receive $2.5 Million Under Federal Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper are announcing today that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved some $2 million to expand Redden State Forest and another $500,000 to revitalize Delaware Bay oyster beds. The fiscal 2004 Interior spending bill passed the Appropriations Committee last week and will soon head to the Senate floor for consideration. The bill must then be conferenced with a competing House version before becoming law. Redden State Forest
These funds ($2 million) would be matched with $4.5 million already invested in the expansion project by the state of Delaware. The money would be used to buy property in the Nanticoke-Broadkill Conservation Corridor, as proposed by the States of Maryland and Delaware, thereby expanding the forest by some 5,400 acres. Redden State Forest is home to seven rare plant species, four state endangered bird species and migratory birds that travel the Atlantic flyway. It is also a recreational site for hunting, horseback riding, hiking, and birdwatching, as well as an important center for groundwater recharge. “Redden State Forest is a unique and important resource in Delaware,” said Senator Tom Carper. “This expansion project is crucial to ensuring the integrity of the forest. Senator Biden and I will continue to work with our colleagues to make sure this important funding is signed into law.” “Fortifying and strengthening Delaware’s natural areas is one of the most important things we can do to preserve the inherent beauty of our state,” said Biden. “We owe it to our children and our children’s children to do whatever we can to make the protection of these open spaces and parks a priority.” Delaware Bay Oyster Beds
The money ($500,000) would aid the non-profit Delaware Estuary Program and the Rutgers University Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, both of which have worked together to develop an innovative plan to revitalize oyster beds in the Delaware Bay. Modeled after a similar effort in the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay project would rebuild oyster reefs using discarded oyster shells, which provide an inviting habitat for oyster larvae. The project would also transplant young oysters to regions of the Bay more favorable for survival. Significant, positive ecological benefits of oyster revitalization projects in the Chesapeake Bay are well documented, and the Delaware Bay Oyster Industry Revitalization Project should make similar gains. For instance, oysters help filter water, which should lower harmful nutrient levels in the bay. In addition, oyster reefs provide valuable habitat for numerous other marine species, contributing to the overall health of the estuary. Project developers have estimated an expected return of $59 in economic benefit for every dollar invested. “Improving the health of Delaware Bay is of concern to many of us,” said Senator Tom Carper. “This project should help replenish the oyster population, which should result in positive ecological benefits for the bay.”