Projects and Research

Research on Civilian Conservation Corps in Delaware by Flavia Rutkosky

In 1937 the Federal Government purchased 12,000 acres to create a refuge for migratory waterfowl east of Smyrna, Delaware. Now known as Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge it is one of 44 National Wildlife Refuges for which the initial infrastructure was built by Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees. Civilian Conservation Corps Company 3269-C arrived on April 1, 1938 and departed March 18, 1942. The Company was one of three segregated CCC companies involved in developing National Wildlife Refuges and was the only segregated CCC Company in Delaware.

The CCC enrollees constructed dikes, freshwater impoundments and an observation tower. They also established and tended wildlife food plots and a tree nursery, installed sewer lines and buried telephone cables along the entrance road. The first Refuge Headquarters Building, which provided both office space and a carpentry shop was built by the CCC in 1939. Residences for the Refuge Manager and the Patrolman/Laborer were completed in 1940 and a vehicle maintenance shop was completed in 1941.

By 2010 – after 70 years of use, both the Headquarters Building (now known as the Service Building) and the Vehicle Maintenance Shop needed to be replaced with modern facilities. Because of the structures' association with the Civilian Conservation Corps, the buildings were eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Demolition of these important cultural resources involved compensatory mitigation, a requirement of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The resulting Memo of Agreement between Bombay Hook and the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office identified archival research on all CCC activities in Delaware, leading to a publication as one of the mitigation tasks. DBEP staff is completing this task.

Delaware Schoolyard Biodiversity Project

DBEP has a long history partnering with the Delaware Association for Environmental Education and Delaware Children in Nature. DBEP sits on their board and manages their website. As part of this partnership, DBEP launched the Delaware Schoolyard Biodiversity Project. The project will create a way for schools in Delaware to identify, record, and share the biodiversity found on their school grounds using iNaturalist. The project can become a visual repository of biodiversity information for schools for future study, comparison to other schools, and to engage students with identifying and learning about wildlife at their schools. We hope this is a way to use technology to draw today's tech savvy and tech immersed people outside. We want to 1) get Delaware students and their school communities outside and connected to nature; 2) cultivate the curiosity students naturally have when they see things in nature; 3) help Delaware students be aware and appreciative of biodiversity; and 4) create a long-term dataset for schools and others to inventory and track biodiversity.

iNaturalist provides an easy to use application for recording and identifying biodiversity observations. Students at UC Berkeley created iNaturalist and the California Academy of Science and National Geographic currently maintain it with goals of connecting people to nature, creating a biodiversity data, and creating a network of similarly interested individuals.

The central mechanism of the Delaware Schoolyard Biodiversity Project and iNaturalist is gathering observations. An observation is a data point uploaded to iNaturalist typically including a picture of an organism (fungus, tree, insect, etc.) and the specific time and place it was photographed. The observation becomes a permanent data point for a school or those studying biodiversity.