Local nature enthusiasts now have even more land to explore, as the state has completed the $595,000 purchase of the Wilson Farm, an 85-acre parcel of forestland that will become part of Redden State Forest near Georgetown.
Located west of U.S. Route 113 between Ellendale and Georgetown, the new acreage will be added to the existing Jester Tract of the 12,500-acre Redden State Forest.
“The land will be sustainably managed by the Delaware Forest Service for multiple objectives, and will be available to the public for recreational uses such as hunting, hiking and wildlife observation,” said John Peterson, a spokesperson for the Delaware Forest Service.
Michael Valenti, state forestry administrator for the Delaware Forest Service, said about one-third of the newly acquired land is forested, and will remain forested. The open, tillable ground located on the parcel will be leased as farmland.
“The function of this parcel will stay the same for a long time,” Valenti said.
However, he added, because the property is located near the headwaters of the Deep Creek watershed, the Delaware Forest Service will likely plant trees in the area to protect water quality.
The purchase was entirely funded by the Delaware Open Space Preservation Program and marks the latest acquisition in its multi-year Green Horizons Project to sustain working forests, improve water quality, and protect wildlife habitat in key environmental regions on the Delmarva Peninsula, according to Peterson.
In May 2012, the state purchased 339 acres of forestland from the Huff and Sposato families, who wanted the land to be preserved and available to the public. The total cost of that land was $2.68 million. About 75 percent of that funding came from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, while the Delaware Open Space Program contributed the remainder. This land is now part of Redden State Forest.
According to Peterson, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, plans are in the works to purchase an additional four parcels within the next year.
During a May 7 Arbor Day celebration at Blackbird State Forest near Smryna, Gov. Jack Markell praised the newest addition to Redden State Forest, saying, “preserving Delaware’s open space is an important part of maintaining Delaware’s quality of life.”
GateHouse Media Delaware Staff Reporter Scott Goss contributed to this report.