Sussex County Land Trust and Chesapeake Conservancy Celebrate Purchase & Preservation of Nanticoke Crossing Park

Today, the Sussex County Land Trust (SCLT) and Chesapeake Conservancy announced the successful preservation of the newly named Nanticoke Crossing Park. Located on the south side of the Nanticoke River, opposite Woodland, about 4 miles west of Seaford, this 41-acre property includes 29 acres of a mixed hardwood-pine forest, 12 acres of open area with large canopy trees, and 1,900 feet of meandering shoreline with healthy, freshwater tidal, wetland plants. Additionally, it contains direct access to the river by means of an old lagoon that will be revitalized for public use. Purchased from Absher Farms LLC, Nanticoke Crossing Park features a rolling topography overlooking the beautiful Nanticoke River. This partnership marks a successful landmark collaboration by inter-governmental and non-profit organizations to preserve land in Western Sussex County for conservation and recreational use.

The opportunity to protect this site was presented to the SCLT by the Chesapeake Conservancy, a non-profit with the mission of conserving and restoring Chesapeake landscapes and connecting everyone to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Chesapeake Conservancy, in partnership with the Delaware-based Mt. Cuba Center, assists local and state entities by facilitating funding and negotiations for protection projects in the region. This marks a successful landmark collaboration by inter-governmental and non-profit organizations to preserve land in Western Sussex County to be protected for conservation and recreational use.

“The Navy is proud to be a contributing partner for the protection of Nanticoke Crossing Park. This project demonstrates that we can successfully protect military readiness in the Navy’s airspace and support our communities through land preservation and creation of public recreation opportunities,” said Rob Vargo, director, Dept. of the Navy Atlantic Ranges and Targets Department.

The protection and preservation of Nanticoke Crossing Park is a great example of leveraging partnerships and resources for the greater good of Sussex County,” said Casey Kenton, chairman of the SCLT. “We are excited to play a role in this partnership and protect such a beautiful piece of land in Western Sussex overlooking the Nanticoke River.  On behalf of the entire board of the Sussex County Land Trust, we look forward to working with our partners in developing this property into a natural and public recreational resource for all to enjoy.”

“This is the 21st parcel protected through the Chesapeake Conservancy’s partnership with Mt. Cuba for a total of 3,050 acres. The projects have connected previously protected properties throughout the Nanticoke River watershed, which is now 33% protected,” said Joel Dunn, president and CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy. “The Nanticoke River Watershed is now one of the East coast’s best examples of how to achieve President Biden’s intentions in the America the Beautiful initiative to conserve 30% of lands and waters in the United States by 2030.”

“Preserving Sussex County’s spacious wonder and natural beauty has long been a priority for the County Council, and it’s through partnerships like this where we can achieve that goal in magnificent ways,” Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent said. “The Nanticoke Crossing Park, and the collaborative effort to create it, will be a shining example of how government, non-profits, and others can come together toward a singular purpose: to protect a piece of Sussex County for our residents today and, more importantly, for our children tomorrow.”

“We are really excited to help conserve this beautiful place on the Nanticoke River shoreline for future generations,” said Ann C. Rose, Mt. Cuba Center’s president. “Gorgeous native trees will take your breath away, including many oak species, sassafras, black cherry, loblolly pine, Virginia pine, and even Delaware’s state tree to the American holly. This site is home to large stands of spatterdock, blue flag iris and sweetspire, highbush blueberry, and other trees and shrubs. Fox, deer, bald eagles, osprey and songbirds are often seen here.”

Several partnerships helped acquire the property, including Sussex County Council, Chesapeake Conservancy, Mt. Cuba Center, U.S. Navy (via its Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program helping to avoid land-use conflicts and maintain testing missions under Navy airspace), Delaware Open Space Program, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife and the SCLT. This robust collection of partners aligned expertise, funding, and interest in conservation to protect this open space for public use. New partnerships will be formed to promote Nanticoke Crossing Park as a site for local and regional recreation for water access, hiking, and possibly hunting and camping.