by Terry Rogers
On Friday, April 12, a large crowd gathered at the new Slaughter Beach Overlook that was recently constructed over the Marvel Salt Marsh Preserve. The new overlook is designed so that visitors and residents can get a close view of osprey nests, learn more about the salt preserve and its importance to the environment or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through nature.
“We are really fortunate to see this boardwalk come to reality today,” Ann Harper, Executive Director of the Delaware Nature Society, said. “The boardwalk has been a vision for more than a decade. Delaware Nature Society has held educational programs here at the Marvel Salt Marsh Preserve since 1880 and most of the students who came here for the programs were walking on pallets out into the marsh. But, today, you can join all of us in enjoying this beautiful boardwalk that allows for education and observations, for learning and enjoyment of this great habitat.” Harper also thanked the Marvel family for their generosity in donating the salt marsh for public use as well as the many partners that made the boardwalk a reality.
The Slaughter Beach boardwalk was a partnership between DelDOT and DNREC. Nicole Majeski, Deputy Director of DelDOT explained that the project was part of the DelDOT Delaware Bayshore Byway which are scenic byways throughout the state designed to encourage those traveling to Delaware to visit places they may not have known existed, including Slaughter Beach.
“Is this cool or what?” Governor John Carney said. “This is so cool. We were here during the groundbreaking and there wasn’t much here. I had no idea it would be this cool. The Bayshore Byway is about 100 miles and encourages people to see parts of Delaware they rarely see. We’re opening that byway up for our visitors to see and experience Delaware , to go out on this boardwalk and get the ecological experiencel. It’s going to be a cool thing for the people visiting our state and what an educational benefit for our children.”
United States Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester applauded Governor Carney, commenting that he was truly a champion for Delaware. She pointed out that Delaware was unique in many ways, with Democrats, Republicans, Independents, young, “seasoned,” black, white, and brown all working together to get things done.
“We acknowledge that we love this planet,” Representative Rochester said. “That is truly what this is about. It is about loving our space, loving our planet. I say thank you and I say congratulations, especially to the young folks who are here. They are the next generation of leaders. This is why we do it. We do it for the Earth, but we also do it for the next generation.”
DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin told the crowd that he was beyond excited that this project has come to fruition. He pointed out that when they gathered at the location in October, the project was designed for people to experience the natural habitat of fiddler crabs, blue crabs, fish, osprey and other wildlife that depend on the salt marsh for survival. He commented that he had spent more time in Slaughter Beach than in any other part of Delaware because of the many things going on related to conservation in the beach town.
“We talk about that meeting in October but someone actually reminded me this morning that we talked about this ten years ago,” Former Senator Gary Simpson said. “There were a lot of people talking about this at the firehouse. Representative Kenton could not be here today but he and I funded this using our Community Transportation Fund. Now, that money is usually used to a large extent to fill potholes. This is a much better project than putting money into potholes.”
Representative Bryan Shupe, like many of the speakers at the event, thanked the Marvel family for their generous donation of the land where the boardwalk sits.
“I was fortunate enough to grow up with their youngest son, Josh,” Representative Shupe said. “I had the unique opportunity to hear from his parents about their environmental works and to go out to Abbott’s Mill. We had that opportunity and learned how important the environment is and why we need to protect it. I was fortunate enough to have a first-hand experience from them of the importance of preservation and now more kids will have the opportunity to interact with their environment, to get out there and actually see it. It is one thing to sit in a classroom and see videos. It is another thing for them to be out here to hear and see and smell, to get the five senses of what the environment means. I know this project will go a long way toward educating our youth and we’ll have some pioneers for environmental preservation come from the experiences here.”
Senator Dave Wilson pointed out that Delaware was given the name “Diamond State” by President Thomas Jefferson who felt that the state’s strategic location along the Eastern seaboard made Delaware a jewel among states.
“Little did he know that, years later, we could stand here and say that Slaughter Beach is a jewel and outstanding example of Delaware’s natural beauty. The rich history and natural resources of our state must be protected for future generations. This boardwalk will allow countless citizens, especially students, entrance to the area and a better understanding of the marsh and its impact on the environment. It is rewarding to know that, when presented with a remarkable opportunity, if we work together as partners for the greater good, we can live up to our name as the Diamond State. Jefferson would b proud of these efforts.”
Slaughter Beach Mayor Harry Ward said that he was not at all surprised that Secretary Garvin had been to Slaughter Beach so many times over the past few years and let the Secretary know that they were planning to have him back many times in the future.
“This new boardwalk is exactly what Slaughter Beach is about,” Mayor Ward said. “About 98 percent of our land is in preservation and this is why. We can look out there, we can see the ospreys. Children can learn what happens here. Take some time to walk out on the boardwalk. This is a project that really epitomizes what Slaughter Beach is.”
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