Cape Henlopen State Park is irreplaceable

June 2, 2023

We’re all a little shell-shocked in eastern Sussex County, where rural roads now have roundabouts and farm fields are planted with houses. But until last fall, we thought that development stopped at the gate to Cape Henlopen State Park.  

In October, we learned that was not true, that our beautiful Cape Henlopen is not safe from the same forces that are gobbling up the open space of Sussex County. 

On Dec. 5, nearly a thousand people showed up at Cape Henlopen High School to protest the plan to build a bar/restaurant on an undisturbed dune at Cape Henlopen State Park just below the Hawk Watch platform.  

As it turned out, most were there to proclaim their love for Cape Henlopen, but also to express their anger and dismay that it would be used for commercial development. I left there feeling the love that so many people have for Cape Henlopen, and wondering why state parks do not harness that love and support for the good and protection of this irreplaceable land.

Cape Henlopen needs no adornment, no entertainment venues. All of those things are found in abundance as soon as you leave the park. Why would the state use publicly owned state land to compete with private enterprise? 

What is at Cape Henlopen is irreplaceable, and each person who loves it has their own special memories and their own story to tell. For me, it is lying on the beach in September and watching monarch butterflies flutter above as they complete their 17-mile journey across Delaware Bay to Cape Henlopen.  

And in winter, it’s the quiet solitude to be found there. On New Year’s Day, I saw a flock of cedar waxwings fill the cedar trees behind the dunes singing in the new year. Where else?  

It is the land, the sand, the Point, the vistas, the ocean and bay, the dunes, the quiet, the wildlife, the trails. It is a resting stop for migrating birds, and for people. An oasis of wonder and natural beauty. 

The passion that brought so many of us out on a cold weekday night has to do with loss, and the fear of losing the irreplaceable. Senate Bill 6 strengthens the Warner Grant that has offered Cape Henlopen unique protections for 350 years.

For all who love Cape Henlopen State Park, please support its protection by supporting Senate Bill 6.                             

Sally Boswell
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