Interested in visiting a freshwater estuary? The National Estuarine Research Reserve system added another Reserve site in October 2010 raising the number of Reserves to 28 around the United States. The Lake Superior NERR is comprised of approximately 16,000 acres and is located along the confluence of the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. You may see some familiar habitats within their Reserve boundary including freshwater marshes, sandy beaches, and dunes. Have you visited all 28 Reserves? We encourage you to do so and you can start by visiting the Lake Superior NERR or stop by and see us here in Delaware. For more information on the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve visit them on the web and for information on the Delaware NERR please visit our website or like us on Facebook.
Archive for the ‘Education & Outreach’ Category
Many east coasters have heard of brackish water estuaries…where rivers meet the sea. But, have you ever heard of a freshwater estuary? The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System actually has two freshwater estuaries…Old Woman Creek in Ohio and Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Freshwater estuaries do not contain salt water but rather, are combinations of river and lake water (large lakes). The river water and lake water are chemically different and the estuary tends to be driven by storm surges and seiches (shifting of lake water) rather than tides. Today’s destination is the Old Woman Creek NERR located on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie just east of Huron, Ohio. It was the first freshwater estuary adopted into the NERR System in 1980. Old Woman Creek NERR encompasses approximately 573 acres and includes critical spawning and nursery ground for many recreational and commercial fisheries including crappie, blue gill, and channel catfish. So, if you are taking a trip near Huron, Ohio stop in and visit the Old Woman Creek Reserve! For more information about freshwater estuaries visit the estuaries.gov website and to learn more about Old Woman Creek NERR visit them on their website.
How better to learn about a watershed than to experience it? On July 12, 2012 teachers from several states participated in a watershed tour of the St. Jones River coordinated by the Reserve in collaboration with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (the Partnership). The tour is one component of the Partnership’s annual watershed workshop for teachers. The teachers explored the history, habitats, impacts, and the restoration efforts occurring in and along the St. Jones River in Kent County, Delaware. At each stop along the tour teachers had the opportunity to interact with scientists, resource managers, and environmental educators about the importance of the St. Jones River; how it was impacted in the past; what impacts it today; and how it is being protected for tomorrow. If you want to learn more about the St. Jones River visit the St. Jones Reserve south of the Dover Air Force Base in Dover, DE.
If you have ever visited the St. Jones Reserve you may know that we are neighbors of the John Dickinson Plantation. At one time the St. Jones Reserve property was owned by the Dickinson family during the 18th century. Mr. Dickinson was called the “Penman of the Revolution” because he was known for his Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies. John was a politician but he identified himself as a farmer. His cattle once grazed on salt meadow hay in the upper marsh surrounding the St. Jones River. He also saw the need to be a conservationist. As he watched the trees in the area being depleted, he instituted a policy on his land where only dead tree material was to be utilized for building and repair.
If you are looking for something to do this 4th of July week , visit the John Dickinson Plantation and the St. Jones Reserve to see the land where our forefather once roamed. For more information about John Dickinson and the Plantation visit the John Dickinson Plantation on the web. Please note that the Reserve and Plantation are closed on the 4th but opened other days of the week.
Looking for a unique destination rich in history, culture, and exploration? Then Sapleo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) is the place to go. Located on Sapelo Island, the fourth largest barrier island in Georgia, the SINERR encompasses 6,110 acres of land consisting of maritime forest, hammock land, and tidal salt marsh. When visiting the Reserve be on the look-out for egrets, herons, fiddler crabs, ospreys, woodstorks, alligators and brown pelicans. Sapelo Island is just as rich in human history as it is in natural history. In fact, the island’s human history dates back 4,500 years which makes visiting this Reserve a great trip for history and nature enthusiasts alike. Enjoy the warmth of Georgia and visit the Sapleo Island National Esturaine Research Reserve, one of 28 Reserves around the United States. For more information about SINERR visit them on the web.
It’s been a fairly mild winter; however, I do find myself daydreaming of warmer places. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) has 28 Reserves around the United States and its territories of which the Delaware NERR is apart. One of the Reserves I have wanted to visit is Jobos Bay in Aguirre, Puerto Rico. This Reserve was adopted into the national system in 1981. With approximately 3,300 acres, Jobos Bay NERR encompasses a wide variety of habitats including mangrove forests, subtropical dry forests, sea grass beds, salt flats, and coral reefs. It is home to animals such as the peregrine falcon, West Indian manatee, brown pelicans, and hawksbill turtles. Jobos Bay would make a great destination! For more information about Jobos Bay NERR visit them on Facebook and on the National Estuarine Research Reserve website. Keep checking back for the next Reserve Destination location.
The St. Jones Reserve is now taking reservations for the Spring 2012 and Fall 2012 field trip seasons. We thank everyone for their patience and support as the Reserve was in a strategic planning mode this past fall. We will be offering field trip opportunities on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning March 1st. Field trips are designed based on grade levels and Delaware state standards. Possible activities for your school’s field trip experience may include a muckless marsh walk; discovery labs on various topics (such as weather & climate, horseshoe crabs, water quality); activities about horseshoe crabs; skins, scat, and tracks activity; watershed models; fish printing; plant collecting and preservation; and boat trips just to name a few. Please contact Kate Marvel if you are interested in participating in a field trip at the St. Jones Reserve by e-mailing her at Kate.Marvel@state.de.us or by calling (302) 739-3436. For more information about the Reserve visit our website.
Did you know that the American holly (Ilex opaca) is Delaware’s State tree? The holly was adopted as the State’s tree in 1939. This beautiful native plant is commonly used in decorations this time of year. But, I encourage you to take a hike on one of our trails to see the beauty of the American holly as it naturally decorates our woodlands and forests. The bright red berries and the thick green leaves provide a punch of color against the backdrop of late fall and early winter’s browner tones. American holly trees look great planted in a landscape and the berries are a source of food for many bird species. Enjoy a winter hike this year and explore the great outdoors! Our trails at the St. Jones and the Blackbird Creek Reserves are open dawn until dusk 7 days a week. And as always during this time of year, be aware that there is active hunting on portions of the Reserve (except on Sundays when there is no hunting).
Looking for something fun to do this Saturday, October 22? Join us at the 4th annual Blackbird Creek Fall Festival at the Blackbird Creek Reserve on 801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend, Delaware from 10 am – 4 pm. Delight in the beauty of the Blackbird Creek by taking a hay ride or enjoying a leisurely canoe trip. Listen to the sounds of great musicians such as Em McKeever, Crabmeat Thompson, The Bog Turtle Band, Mallory Square, and Nice Like Dat. The kids will enjoy exploring the straw maze, making fall crafts, watching the Retriever Demonstration by the Del Bay Retriever Club, and learning about Native American culture and heritage. There will also be local artisans, vendors, exhibitors, demonstrations, and food.
And, if you are a runner/walker and are looking for a challenge, the Appoquinimink River Association is hosting the Run for our Rivers 5K at 9 am at the Blackbird Creek Reserve prior to the festival. For more information about the 5K visit the Run for our Rivers webpage and for more information about the Blackbird Creek Fall Festival visit the Festival webpage.
Snaking through the middle of downtown Dover, past Legislative Hall, sneaking around the Air Force Base, and ending its journey at Bowers Beach is none other than the St. Jones River. In years past, our rivers were thought to be our life line. They were our source of food, transportation, income, entertainment, and sense of beauty. As you journey on the St. Jones River you notice the life that once was, the life that now is, and the life soon to be. As one of the main transportation routes from Dover to Wilmington and Philadelphia, the St. Jones served as a thoroughfare for the farming community. Large ships would transport produce and canned goods from the areas around Dover and ship them into the larger Ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. These ships used to carry the goods originated from the ship yards of Lebanon Landing, Delaware. It is now difficult to imagine that large ships ever traversed this river but photographs show us different. To make the trip easier for the ships to maneuver, the River was straightened by dredging until the mid to late 1930’s. Numerous meanders or bends were cut through to straighten this mighty river. These bends helped slow the flow of water and defined the River. As the St. Jones path was altered by dredging, brackish water (combination of fresh and salt water) moved further upstream changing the plant and animal communities from a more freshwater system to a brackish water system.
The landscape and lifestyles have certainly changed since the pre-colonial times. Now, we see more people and more buildings along the St. Jones River. We see less commercial fisherman, less recreation on the River, and no shipping industry. However, the River never disappoints in providing great bird sightings such as the vibrant great blue herons, petite marsh wrens, energetic kingfishers, the mighty osprey, and the majestic bald eagles. The beauty of the St. Jones River still exists in its stunning marsh lands, rich history, and swift current. If only the River could talk…oh the tale it would tell. To find out more about the St. Jones River, join us on a boat trip to experience its story.