The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays broke ground Nov. 16 to implement the James Farm Ecological Preserve Master Plan, a community-developed initiative designed to protect the preserve’s diverse collection of ecosystems, while safely accommodating and educating a growing number of visitors.

In 2014, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, which manages the preserve for Sussex County, created a master plan that accommodates the growing needs of the preserve, while protecting its natural resources and enhancing the educational opportunities that are offered there. Overall upgrades to the site will include restrooms and parking, a safe entry and exit area to Cedar Neck road, storage facilities for equipment and educational programs, trail improvements, interpretive signage and provisions for special events.

November’s groundbreaking marked the beginning of the plan's implementation. These phase one improvements include a new parking area that can hold 27 cars and safely accommodate the buses that bring local students for the center’s environmental educational programs each fall and spring. A new event lawn completes phase one, an improvement that will allow for the center to hold community-friendly events like concerts and the annual native plant sale.

The James Farm Master Plan covers the next 20 years of management to preserve its special natural lands and lights the way for future generations to safely enjoy this ecological treasure. The center is working to raise funds for the second phase of the plan that includes repair and realignment of the trail system, construction new educational facilities and improvements to storage areas for the center’s projects to restore the Inland Bays.

For more, visit inlandbays.org/jamesfarm, call 226-8105, ext. 109, or email communications@inlandbays.org.