Sussex County protects more than 300 acres

Forest of the Broadkill Preserve: Land trust to manage largest land purchase in its history
May 10, 2023

The largest land purchase under the partnership of Sussex County and the Sussex County Land Trust was announced during council's May 9 meeting. In all, tracts totaling more than 300 acres – on both sides of the county – will be preserved as open space.

The largest parcel, 294 acres known as Forest of the Broadkill Preserve bordering Ingram Branch, is being purchased from two property owners for $1.85 million. The parcel, a mix of fields and woods, is located off Gravel Hill Road (Route 30) and Shingle Point Road near Milton.

The land trust will have a conservation easement on the property and be responsible for development of public access and ongoing maintenance. The parcel is expected to eventually include a parking area and a publicly accessible trail system.

Most of the parcel was harvested timber with a number of logging roads throughout the property, which can repurposed as trails, said Sussex County Land Trust Executive Director Mark Chura.

He said the site is a perfect location for a single-track bike trail.

“The property includes some rare habitats, and is a mix of mature trees, open fields and forests,” said Chura, who also offered updates on other county-land trust properties. “We will act to restore the native ecosystem through reforestation and habitat creation.”

The other tract is an 11-acre combination of three wooded parcels, known as the Wright properties, along the Nanticoke River east of Seaford. The parcels, costing $460,000, will be managed by the Nanticoke Conservancy and feature public access at a later date.

“Sussex County has been a terrific partner, with a lot happening in a very short time,” Chura added.

Chura said the land trust raised more than $3.9 million in 2021-22 through a variety of sources, including individual and corporate donations, nonprofit organizations and the public sector.

County officials said the purchases – the latest in a round of land buys by the county in recent years – are an important step in ensuring Sussex County’s natural settings remain intact for future generations to enjoy.

“The county council has made it clear that preserving land is one of its highest priorities,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson. “This in an investment to maintain Sussex County’s legacy.”

Funding for the acquisitions comes from the county’s portion of realty transfer tax revenue.

Ongoing land trust projects

Hudson Park, located at the intersection of Route 9 and Cool Spring Road near Lewes, includes a spur route connecting to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail. Plans are to construct a trailhead at the location.

Phase 1: Scheduled to start this spring. Plans include access to Cool Spring Road, a gravel parking lot, pergola, sidewalk connecting to the trail, stormwater management pond, landscaped berm and reforestation of 4.5 acres.

Phase 2: Construction in the summer of 2024, including a second parking lot, a water connection for a bathhouse, parking bumpers and more sidewalk.

Phase 3: Construction in 2025 including paving of the parking lot, a bathhouse, landscaping and the possibility of a playground.

Hopkins Preserve, containing 52 acres, is located along Sweetbriar Road adjacent to the Hopkins Farm and the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail near Lewes.

Phase 1: Scheduled to start in fall 2023, including a shared entrance with a relocated Lewes Masonic Lodge, stormwater improvements, grading, a public road/multi-use trail, parking lot, sidewalks and trails linking the parking lot to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail. The estimated cost is $1.13 million.

Phase 2: Completion of trails in the preserve, plantings and reforestation, installation of signage and trail amenities. Work is expected to cost $398,000 and begin in fall 2025.

Phase 3: Completion of plantings and reforestation, and completion of trail amenities. Work is estimated to cost $95,000 and begin in summer 2025.

The land trust is also involved in projects at Nanticoke Crossing Park along the Nanticoke River adjacent to the Woodland Ferry near Seaford and at Ickford Park, the location of the historic Cannon-Masten House, north of Seaford.

Go to for more information.


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