Collaborations Create Innovative Forest Wetland Project Near Frankford

Frankford, Del. — A project to add native wetland vegetation that will restore natural habitat and improve water quality is taking root this month in Sussex County.

Environmental Concern, Inc., an environmental contractor based in Maryland, is completing the final plantings at an innovative restoration project along Burbage Road near Frankford, with some assistance from volunteers. The site includes two constructed freshwater wetlands that cover just under 2 acres, a nearly 2-acre native meadow habitat and about 7 acres of native hardwood forest on County owned-land.

An aerial view of the project gives a birds eye view of the newly installed wetland plants.

The project is a cooperative effort among the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Sussex County government and the Sussex Conservation District (SCD). The property, which covers a total of 20 acres next to Blackwater Creek, a tributary of Little Assawoman Bay, will no longer be used as fertilized cropland.

“We are honored to work with the Center for the Inland Bays on the design and construction of the Burbage Road water quality improvement project,” said SCD District Coordinator David Baird. “This project will provide an ideal habitat for native and migratory wildlife while improving the Inland Bays water quality by filtering nutrients and sediment.”

Sussex County, which owns the property and funded the effort, hopes to apply the restoration efforts to a stormwater credit program that is now under development.

Keenan Kramer, a restoration staff member with Environmental Concern, plants switchgrass along the edge of the wetland pond at the project site.

“The County appreciates our continued relationship with the Center for the Inland Bays, and this project highlights the benefits of our partnership,” said County Administrator Todd F. Lawson. “By restoring the County’s property to its natural condition, these efforts will have exponential benefits to the water quality and health of the upper reaches of the Indian River and the Inland Bays overall.”

As the vegetation takes root, the new habitats are expected to help fight climate change by capturing about 8.7 million pounds of atmospheric carbon over the next 20 years. The project also will stop about 170 pounds of nitrogen and four pounds of phosphorus pollution from reaching nearby waterways every year.

“We’re not just reforesting. We’re creating a more cohesive space for wildlife,” said Zachary Garmoe, the Center’s science technician. “Right now, there are thousands of tiny trees in tubes that 10 years from now will be a forest that will also help improve water quality and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.”

To learn more about the Center’s restoration work, go to

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.

For more information or to arrange a site visit, contact Communications Specialist Maddy Goss at or at 302-858-7795.

Plants installed at the Burbage Road project site include switchgrass, a perennial grass.