Cape park cabins coming; slumping snow fence exiting

Plans are in the works to replace the unsightly snow fencing along Gills Neck Road with split rail fencing similar to that shown here along the northern end of the Junction and Breakwater Trail. BY DENNIS FORNEY
March 23, 2012

Each year brings improvements and upgrades to our state parks, and this year is no exception. In addition to usual maintenance and sprucing up, Cape Henlopen State Park will see a significant change in its campground this year. According to Superintendent Paul Faircloth, starting Memorial Day weekend, campers will have the opportunity to rent cabins.  Faircloth said five campsites are being displaced to make way for the cabins in a corner of the campground where the paved bicycle and walking trail meets up with the old Fort Miles Transmitter Road.

In all, six prefabricated cabins are being brought into the park.  Foundations are going in now.

The cabins have a capacity of six people with two inside rooms and a porch. They will be heated and air-conditioned for three-season use from early spring through the fall. There are no cooking facilities in the cabins. Taking out the five campsites will leave the campground with a total of 154 sites.

In the peak season between June 22 and Aug. 24, there is a one-week minimum reservation and a two-week maximum stay.  The cost is $693 for the week. In the fall, from Aug. 24 through Nov. 30, the cabins will be available for $89 per night with a two-night minimum on weekends. The same will apply next spring.  There will also be three-night minimums on Easter weekend, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.

For more details, people can call Joyce at the park office at 645-8983.

Faircloth said work is continuing to upgrade the sewer and water line infrastructure at the park.  “We’ve scoped the lines with a camera to find which are the worst.  Some of the old water lines have blockages, and we’re experiencing a fair amount of stormwater infiltration in our sewer lines, so that needs attention.”

The Frisbee golf course at the Cape park continues to be a popular feature.  “We’re cleaning out fallen branches and making sure the course is in good shape.  We’re also replacing some of the tee pads.  There are people in here every week playing the course.  Just a few weeks ago there was a tournament here with 30 people involved.”

Trail snow fence being replaced
One of the chronic eyesores of the area, the snow fence along the Junction and Breakwater Trail by Gills Neck Road across from Cape Henlopen High School, will soon be replaced. Pat Cooper, regional manager for Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore state parks, said he has been told Delaware’s Department of Transportation will replace the snow fence with a split rail fence similar to the fence along the trail where it skirts the Hawks Eye development. “The Division of Parks installed that split rail fence but my understanding is that DelDOT is working on replacing the snow fencing,” said Cooper.

The fences help create a boundary between the trail and private property along the trail.  The snow fencing has a habit of falling over frequently giving it a dilapidated appearance.

Snow goose hunting intensifying

This is the time of year when snow goose hunting intensifies.  With days lengthening, winter wheat fields are coming out of dormancy which means tender spring shoots attracting great flocks.  With grain prices at all-time highs, farmers are less willing to give up their winter cover crops to feeding snow geese. When hunters want to come in and drive them out, they’re often welcomed with open arms.

Trying to bring down the numbers which this year are at record levels, the state takes off most of the limitations that usually regulate hunters.  They are allowed to take the plugs out of their guns, which means they can have up to six shells in their chambers at a time, there is no limit on the number of geese they can kill and they’re also allowed to use electronic recordings to entice the legendarily wary geese to decoy.

Those tactics worked recently when a sophisticated group of hunters set up their rig in the wheat field behind the old Mitchell barn on Kings Highway outside Lewes.  Just after daybreak the shooting began and volley after volley continued through the morning and into the afternoon.  Conditions were ideal for snow goose hunting which is usually very challenging.  It was raining and blowing, there was low cloud cover and the geese had been using the field during the previous week. According to reliable reports, the hunters killed well more than 100 geese, which are now in the process of being processed into goose jerky, goose salami and other tasty products. They also eventually drove the geese from the field to prevent further crop damage.

It’s not often that hunting operations are that visible to passing traffic and nearby homeowners and businesses. The Cape Gazette received one phone call on Saturday asking if what was going on was legal.  The answer is yes. The landowners were aware  and one of the farmers whose crop was being affected was among the hunters.