Volunteers Begin Work on Phase 1 of the James Farm Master Plan

Ocean View– On Wednesday, October 7, twenty-one employees with DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship, Drainage Section, volunteered their time at the James Farm Ecological Preserve, clearing brush and selected trees from two acres that will now be managed as upland meadow. The meadow is part of the James Farm Ecological Preserve Master Plan that aims to accommodate a growing number of visitors to the Preserve while protectingits natural features.

The James Farm Ecological Preserve is a 150-acre area on the Indian River Bay that consists of freshwater forested wetlands, a coastal plain pond, meadow, saltmarsh, tidal flats, successional forest, and upland forests. The Preserve is owned by Sussex County and has been managed by the Delaware Center for Inland Bays (CIB) since 1998.

As part of Phase 1 of the Master Plan, some invasive species and pre-selected trees were removed from the area behind the information kiosk.  The removed vegetation was left in piles in the new meadow to create winter shelter for songbirds, turtles and small mammals. Invasive plant species will be controlled in the area and, in fall 2016, some native hardwoods and pines will be planted to bring more species diversity to the area.

The Master Plan was developed in 2014 with Oasis Design Group, a landscape architecture and master planning firm located in Baltimore.  In developing the Plan, the consultant addressed the physical restoration, improvement, and management of the property and considered emerging issues such as sea level rise.   

Each year, over 10,000 visits are made to the Preserve where locals and tourists alike enjoy the trails, beach and bay views, wildlife viewing and community events including the CIB’s annual Gardening for the Bays Native Plant Sale.  In addition, CIB provides instruction to nearly a thousand students each school year as part of the James Farm Middle School Education Program, a partnership with Indian River School District.

The Master Plan addresses the challenges of increased visitation to the Preserve while preserving the land for environmental education and recreation as Mary Lighthipe, the last heir of the James family and donor of the property, intended.  Implementation of the Plan is being supported by a generous grant from Sussex County Council.     

The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization established in 1994 to promote the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays and its watershed.  With its many partners, the CIB conducts public outreach and education, develops and implements restoration projects, encourages scientific inquiry and sponsors research.  For more information call Sally Boswell at 226-8105, or email at outreach@inlandbays.org  or, go to our website at www.inlandbays.org