Gary Emory, Executive Director of Milford Parks & Recreation, is successfully continuing his efforts to establish ecotourism in the city of Milford. With a focus on offering water-based recreation to a town that was built around the economic strength of the Mispillion River, Emory has facilitated the progress of two major waterway attractions that will connect people to nature. The Chaney-Wilmont Greenway and Goat Island will become two sites along the Mispillion River that will serve as outdoor classrooms for teachers, students and community members in the near future.
The dedication of the Chaney-Wilmont Greenway, located between the Vinyard Shipyard and Goat Island on the South side of the Mispillion River, will be celebrated at the first annual Paddle Pedal Festival on Saturday, October 13. The $380,000 project, partially funded by the Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund and matched by the City of Milford, features a beautiful, scenic overlook of the Mispillion River with a floating dock for fishing and access to the river and sidewalks and picnic area for recreation and relaxation.
“The Chaney-Wilmont Greenway is the big connecting piece to the final part of the puzzle; Goat Island,” commented Gary Emory. “We hope to encourage ecotourism and plan to partner with businesses to create a natural amphitheater across the river in the future.”
Future plans for the Chaney-Wilmont Greenway include a visitor and nature center off of Marshall Street that will be key to the city’s eco-tourism initiative and will promote economic development for the citizens of Milford and Kent and Sussex Counties. The Island will be an educational resource for area schools, community and nature groups.
The Goat Island project, which is set to begin in 2013, will take place on an eight acre island on the Mispillion River located next to the Chaney-Wilmont Greenway. The habitat consists of three separate ecosystems including tidal forest swampland, freshwater tidal swamp and the Mispillion River.
“Goat Island is really a microcosm of the Delmarva Peninsula,” commented Emory. “There is plenty of wildlife in this area including deer, foxes, otters, raccoons and several species of birds.”
The project will include a nature study area with seating, display boards and work tables. The trail will consist of a path constructed along the perimeter of the island with raised overlook areas including benches and information panels. Visitors to the park will benefit by hands on learning about wetlands, environmental ecology, woodland habitat and associated plant and animal interrelationships, including songbird nesting and varied insect and amphibian habitat relationships. Now in the design planning stage, the proposed cost to complete the project is estimated at $1 million and will take approximately two years to complete.
“People don’t understand how incredible these things are to have in your back yard,” commented Emory. “We want people to understand their importance and begin to enjoy these areas.”