Delaware Wild Lands recently announced the restoration of 80 acres of freshwater wetlands at its 10,600-acre Great Cypress Swamp property in Frankford.
Once a low-yield agricultural field, the 80-acre site now consists of seven interconnected wetland cells that create a dynamic land- and waterscape. Completed just weeks ago, this project is already benefitting migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, rare and declining reptiles and amphibians, native pollinators and invertebrates, and many other species of Delaware wildlife.
Decades of widespread ditching and draining of the swamp for agriculture diverted water away, degrading the integrity and function of this wetland, reducing biodiversity, and damaging habitat for migratory and resident wildlife.
Strategic earthwork and select ditch plugging completed as part of this project are diverting floodwaters back into the swamp.
Swales and hummocks created through excavation connect the wetland cells, and diversify the habitat and landscape features. A variety of partners contributed their expertise, funding, oversight and design skills to make this project a great success, including the Nature Conservancy in Maryland/DC, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Over the next two years, Delaware Wild Lands will plant 10,000 native trees and shrubs across the 80 acres, including baldcypress, Atlantic white cedar and buttonbush. These plantings will grow into a forested wetland that ultimately will clean and cool the air, slow climate change through carbon sequestration, absorb rain from heavy storms to reduce flooding, provide enhanced bird and wildlife habitat, and filter harmful pollutants from groundwater supplies.