SB 6 protects Cape Henlopen State Park

June 2, 2023

A recent editorial written by the Cape Gazette lauds the efforts of Senate Bill 6, introduced by Sen. Russ Huxtable and co-sponsored by Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf. Although recently passed through committee, SB 6 awaits approval by the Senate, and, with your support, passage in the House of Representatives.

SB 6 aims to protect against future commercial exploitation of Cape Henlopen State Park. It is unfortunate that we must question the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and its decision to construct a 6,000-square-foot bar/restaurant on a protected dune in an environmentally sensitive area. DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin stated that SB 6 is an overreaction following last year’s events, but clearly this is an agency out of touch with our deep-rooted belief in conservation and environmental protection. Our government officials need clarification on allowed commercial activities in Cape Henlopen State Park as stated in the original Warner Grant and further defined by legislation passed in 1979. Taken together, those documents along with SB 6 will ensure the mission of Cape Henlopen State Park remains for the stated purposes of nature education, preservation and recreation.

Detractors of the bill state that it will hinder existing recreational activities such as fishing and kayak rentals. However, these activities function in support of recreation, education and preservation. These are the cornerstones of the Warner Grant. The type of overt commercialization of the park as originally proposed by DNREC was also to include a phase two concept called “glamping sites” to be constructed at the Hawk Watch area. The bar/restaurant was only the beginning of what was to be named Henlopen Lodge. On Dec. 5, DNREC said it had put a pause on plans. The amendment to the Warner Grant will put the focus back on stewardship. Those of us who live here, and others who visit our park, will be able to continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the park and one of the few places left in Sussex County not impacted by commercialism. Please contact your legislators in support of SB 6 and in support of Cape Henlopen State Park for us and for future generations.  

Christine Besche
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