Delaware Wild Lands has announced the restoration of 80 acres of wetlands in Frankford, Delaware.
The restoration project has taken about two years to complete with the help of multiple conservation and restoration organizations around the area.
“This project was different than others we have done mostly because of its size,” said Kate Hackett, Executive Director of DWL. “I explain it to people in that it’s basically 60 football fields of wetlands.”
The Nature Conservancy in Maryland/DC, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have contributed their knowledge, money and oversight into the project.
Including time, Hackett estimates that the project has cost around $100,000.
The disintegration of the freshwater wetlands is the result of decades of widespread ditching and draining of the area for agriculture that diverted the water away from the swamp, destroying its foundation and integrity.
The damage to the wetland has caused reduced biodiversity in the area, and damaged habitats for migratory and resident wildlife.
At one point, the new wetland was a low yielding agricultural field but has now consists of 7 interconnected wetland cells that create a dynamic land/water landscape.
The restoration was done through the process of earthwork and ditch plugging, which diverted flood waters back into the wetlands.
Swales and hummocks were created through excavation to connect the 7 wetland cells, creating diverse landscape features and animal habitats.
“I would say that once we started the earth work, it only took maybe four months,” Hackett said. “Now we just have to let nature do the rest.”
Already, the project has benefitted migratory shore bird and waterfowl populations, rare reptile and amphibian populations, and native pollinators and intervariable, she said.
Over the next two years DWL plans to plant 10,000 native trees and shrubs around the wetland.
The tree plantings are planned to grow the swamp into a forested wetland that will ultimately clean and cool the air.
The forested wetland will do its part in slowing climate change through climate sequestrations and will reduce flood by absorbing heavy amounts of rainwater.
The project was finished weeks ago.
Delaware Wild Lands is a non-profit conservation organization that was founded in 1961. The goal of the organization is to protect and restore natural areas and has done so by purchasing land across the state traditionally used for farming, hunting, and forestry. It now owns more than 21,600 acres across the three counties.