The State of Delaware and several private organizations will preserve seven properties totalling nearly 2,000 acres in central and western Sussex County, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner announced on Thursday.
The 1,980 acres formerly belonged to the Glatfelter Pulpwood Company. The seven parcels stretch from Greenwood to Millsboro and Georgetown.
The state paid $15.3 million for the Glatfelter properties. The USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry Program, contributed nearly $2 million of Forest Legacy Program funds towards the purchase, and the Forestland Group supplied the remaining $950,000.
The properties have been purchased outright or saved through the use of conservation easements.
Together with previous purchases and easements accomplished between the fall of 2000 and early 2004, the state, its private sector partners and Sussex County have now protected more than 9,000 of Glatfelter’s original 18,600-acre holding in Delaware.
"The rewards are priceless because they will benefit generations of those who will follow us," said Gov. Minner. "With this acquisition of forestland, combined with past and future preservation efforts, we are succeeding in the fight against sprawl."
The seven parcels connect to existing natural areas, agricultural preservation areas, Collins Pond and state forests. They buffer more than nine miles of streams and ditches in both the Delaware and Chesapeake Bay watersheds, and provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.
A parcel bordering Collins Pond, west of Georgetown, is also home to the rare Atlantic White Cedar, which grows only alongside aquatic areas.
Delaware's partners in the transactions have been The Conservation Fund, a non-profit environmental organization headquartered in Arlington, Va., The Forestland Group LLC, a timberland investment management organization based in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
"We are experiencing a sea change for conservation and forestry in America," said Larry Selzer, president of The Conservation Fund. "If we are to permanently conserve our nation's forestlands, we must create innovative public-private partnerships that balance economic growth with environmental principles."
The Forestland Group's Managing Director, Chris Zinkhan, said his company pursues investments primarily in naturally regenerating hardwood and pine forests.
"The Forestland Group and our partners look forward to managing our Delaware forests on a sustainable basis," said Zinkhan. "We intend to explore such forest management options as extending the cutting cycles in order to increase the size of the timber."