Our Mission

To preserve, protect, and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.

The Center achieves this through science-based: research, restoration, education, outreach, public policy, and advocacy.

About Us

The Center was established by the Delaware General Assembly as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1994. Its creation was the culmination of 20 years of public participation and investigation into the decline of the water quality of the Inland Bays and the remedies for their restoration. The Center primarily serves the residents of the Inland Bays watershed, though all who work in and visit the area benefit from the Center’s work.

Since its creation, the Center has led efforts to address the challenges facing the Inland Bays watershed by developing and implementing a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) focused on scientific inquiry into the health of the Bays, improving water quality, restoring fish and wildlife habitats, and educating the public and decision-makers about issues affecting the watershed. Specific initiatives include participatory science, land conservation and reforestation, living shorelines, youth education, and more.

Vision Statement

A healthy and resilient watershed, where diverse wildlife and habitats thrive, and all who live, work, and visit contribute to its betterment as informed stewards.



  • To facilitate the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays’ Watershed through the coordinated implementation of the Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.
  • To provide a forum where science supports public education and decision-making regarding the Inland Bays Watershed.
  • To foster a collaborative, consensus-building culture among watershed stakeholders crucial to support research, education, protection and restoration initiatives, and policy decisions.

Core Values

Integrity. We operate, communicate, and advocate with scientific, organizational, and individual integrity.
Collaboration. We are successful when we work together.
Inclusivity. We embrace the potential unleashed when all are represented.
Respect. We act with respect for the environment and the perspectives, knowledge, and contributions of others.
Empowerment. Through our educational and scientific efforts, we empower the community to be responsible stewards of the Bays. We are empowered by a positive work culture that fosters innovation, fun, and doing good.

The National Estuary Program & the CCMP

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program is a non-regulatory program established in 1987 under Section 320 of the Clean Water Act. Its purpose is to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance. 

In 1988, the United States Congress designated the Inland Bays as an estuary of national significance, and as such, the Center is one of the 28 National Estuary Programs (NEPs). Each NEP has established a CCMP, a long-term plan that includes specific actions to protect and restore water quality and living resources. 

The Delaware Inland Bays CCMP was first adopted in 1995, supplemented in 2012, and revised in 2021. It guides the protection and restoration of the Inland Bays by identifying specific actions to be undertaken by the Center and its partners. These actions are organized under six Core Elements: 

  • Living with a Changing Climate
  • Clean Waters: Health Agricultural Landscapes
  • Clean Waters: Reducing Pollution from the Developed Landscape
  • Healthy Bay Ecosystems: Protect and Restore Thriving Habitats for Abundant Fish and Wildlife
  • Coordinate Land and Water Use Decisions
  • Education, Outreach, and Marketing


The Center oversees the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan including its 2012 Addendum. While the original 1995 plan remains in effect; the 2012 Addendum provides prioritized tasks for the next five years, including issues that have emerged since the original document was written: nutrient management, wastewater management, stormwater management, water quality management, managing living resources and their habitat, planning for climate change, coordinating land and water use decisions, and outreach and education. Under each focus area are objectives, actions, and performance measures.

In the years since the original CCMP was completed, much has been accomplished. Only one major point source of nutrient loading to the Bays remains of the 13 point sources identified in 1990, and two of these sources will be removed in the near future. Nutrient management plans have been implemented for nearly all the farms in the Inland Bays drainage system, and thousands of acres of land have been placed under protection.

The CIB also works with The Association of National Estuary Programs, ANEP, a 501(c)3 that works with NEPs to educate key stakeholders, including elected officials, about the value and importance of clean water and healthy estuaries to coastal communities and their economies.

Annual Work Plans

CIB Annual Work Plans are written to meet EPA requirements for the award of funds pursuant to Section 320 of the Clean Water Act. They serve as an agreement between the Center for the Inland Bays and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for work to be carried out throughout the fiscal year focused on the implementation of the Delaware Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan via research, demonstration, education/outreach, and habitat restoration activities.

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays will implement the Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) through a series of new and ongoing projects implementing various CCMP Action Plans and Tactics.