Sussex council, land trust approve Hopkins agreement

Preserve will protect natural features of farmland and allow public access
November 17, 2023

At its Nov. 14 meeting, Sussex County Council approved an agreement with Sussex County Land Trust for property management of Hopkins Preserve, a 40-acre preserved parcel along Sweetbriar Road west of Lewes.

The county purchased the property for $1.5 million, which was a discounted price offered by owner Walt Hopkins, whose donation totaled more than $1.2 million.

Under the agreement, the county turns over management and development of the property to the land trust.

The county has budgeted $981,000 for future construction costs. The land trust has allocated $250,000 for the project.

The plan includes a shared entrance off Sweetbriar Road with a new Masonic Lodge in the northeastern section of the property. Part of the land deal included a donation of 7 acres (not included in the preserve acreage) to the local Masonic Lodge, of which Hopkins is a member.

The property contains 11 acres of preserved forest dating back at least 100 years.

The plan also includes a seasonal wetland, meadow, 10 acres of reforestation, walking trails, a multipurpose ADA trail around the perimeter named Hopkins Loop Trail, access to the adjacent Tall Pines community, a parking lot and restroom.

A trailhead and access to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail, which runs along the southern edge of the property, are included.

“This is a preserve and not a park. It will be sanctuary for wildlife,” said land trust Executive Director Mark Chura.

Phase 1 – Site preparation, utility infrastructure, stormwater management, pond, vehicle access and parking, 12-foot crushed granite multiuse trail, 6-foot crushed granite accessible pedestrian trail.

Phase 2 – Foot and pond bridge, and seeding of meadow, wetland, open lawn and 6-foot grass pedestrian trail.

Phase 3 – Site amenities including trail markers made of local materials, interpretive signage, benches, picnic tables, bike racks and a restroom.

Phase 4 – Planting of 50% of the total reforested area over a two-year period through volunteer tree-planting events.


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