State officials announced Thursday the preservation of 1,980 acres of forest in Sussex County using a combination of state funds and private contributions.
Jan. 14DOVER, Del. State officials announced Thursday the preservation of 1,980 acres of forest in Sussex County using a combination of state funds and private contributions.
The purchase of the land, which the Glatfelter Pulpwood Co. previously owned, covers seven parcels that go from Greenwood to Millsboro to Georgetown.
The property borders more than nine miles of streams and ditches that feed into the Delaware and Chesapeake bays.
A parcel west of Georgetown along Collins Pond features Atlantic White Cedar trees, which are rare and only grow near bodies of water.
"By saving the property from development, there will be reduced impact on the air we breathe, the watershed, the time it takes to respond to emergencies," Gov. Minner said.
"I could be here until tomorrow talking about the benefits."
The tracts have either been purchased by the state or preserved by conservation easements, which prevent the land from being developed. Since 2000, the state has preserved more than 9,000 of the 18,600 acres Glatfelter owned in Delaware.
"A lot of people don't understand the importance of protecting forestland," Gov. Minner said.
"I am always happy to inform them of the importance of forests, especially as we deal with sprawl. These lands will be preserved forever."
The state paid $15.3 million for the properties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture chipped in about $2 million and the private Forestland Group kicked in $950,000.
The Forestland Group, a private timber company, will be allowed to use a portion of the land as a tree farm. The state will require the group to develop a forest management plan, which will spell out how the company may farm the land.
"We intend to explore such forest management options as extending the cutting cycles in order to increase the size of the timber," said Chris Zinkhan, the Forestland Group's managing director.
Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse said keeping the land as working forests would help reduce the chance of forest fires and help the economy by providing wood for paper and sawdust. Delmarva poultry farms depend on sawdust, he said, which the growers use as bedding in their chicken houses.
"The forest lands are an integral part of our quality of life," Mr. Scuse said.
"This acquisition preserves the character of this state. It enables Delaware to better conserve its natural resources."
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Â© 2005, Delaware State News, Dover. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.