Augustine Wildlife Area: A Haven for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Location and Landscape
Nestled along the western shore of the Delaware River, the Augustine Wildlife Area is a sprawling reserve that extends from the C&D Canal down to the Appoquinimink River. The area comprises five main tracts—Lang, Ashton, Warren/Faella, Silver Run, and Green—all situated along the Route 9 corridor, and collectively amount to about 5,200 acres.
Diverse Habitats and Recreation
With a rich selection of upland and tidal marsh habitats, Augustine offers a diversity of outdoor activities. Just below Port Penn, Augustine Beach boat ramp beckons to shoreline and boat anglers longing to catch striped bass, white perch, catfish, and more in the Delaware River's bountiful waters.
Ashton Tract: A Birdwatcher's Paradise
The Ashton Tract represents the newest addition to Augustine. Named after the nearby historic district, the tract's 550+ acres offer habitats like freshwater marshes and upland forests. The tract is known for exceptional bird watching, enhanced by a recently constructed trail and wildlife viewing platform, part of the ambitious Delaware Bayshore Initiative. Not only does it provide for recreational birding, but also showcases ongoing habitat enhancement works, such as phragmites control and forest restoration.
Apart from bird watching, Ashton Tract caters to hunting aficionados. It primarily opens for youths and non-ambulatory deer hunting, expanding to all for waterfowl hunting during the appropriate seasons. To aid hunters, daily draws for deer stands and waterfowl blinds occur at the Augustine check station.
Lang Impoundment and Conservation Efforts
The Lang Impoundment found north of Port Penn along Route 9, stands as another centerpiece. It's a crucial resting and feeding haven for waterfowl and migratory shorebirds, including herons and egrets from Pea Patch Island. Viewing is facilitated by a platform on the Port Penn Tract, thanks to the Bayshore initiative's funding.
Access and Enjoyment for All
Whether seeking to hunt, fish, observe wildlife, or simply drive along the scenic Route 9 Bayshore Byway, Augustine Wildlife Area is an ideal retreat for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, presenting something for everyone to appreciate.
Assawoman Wildlife Area: A Treasure in Sussex County
Rich History and Habitat Expansion
Situated in Sussex County, adjacent to Little Assawoman Bay, the Assawoman Wildlife Area presents a lush natural habitat. Originating from land assembly by USDA's Forestry Service between 1936 and 1942 to aid farmers, its establishment as a wildlife area came after a 99-year USDA lease in 1948, eventually purchased in 1954. Noteworthy is the Hickman Tract, acquired in 1989, harboring the globally rare Hirst’s panicgrass. Further expansions spanned 1989-1997, adding 830 acres split into six tracts, and a recent expansion in December 2022 grew the area by 15 acres due to a donation by the Bessie Shockley estate.
Conservation Success and Recreational Haven
The wildlife area was once a release site for endangered Delmarva fox squirrels in 1984, which failed to establish. A successful reintroduction in 2020 witnessed births indicating a now-thriving recently reintroduced population. Assawoman is now a popular refuge for hunters, crabbers, boaters, and birdwatchers avoiding the bustling beach life of nearby Bethany and Fenwick Island.
Features and Amenities
- Historic Structures: Two pavilions built under President Roosevelt's New Deal charm at Strawberry and Mulberry Landings for crabbing and boat launching.
- Observation Tower: A 50-foot edifice offering views over Mulberry and 65-acre Ponds designed for bird attraction and mosquito control.
- Hunting and Fishing: Duck blinds, deer stands, and Memorial Pond's catch & release bass and bluegill fishing indulge angling and hunting enthusiasts.
- Auto Touring and Trails: A Self-Guided Auto Tour and seven miles of trails enable visitors to explore the pine and holly forest, diverse birdlife, and picturesque landscapes by car, foot, or bike.
Projects underway include:
- Observation Tower Revamp: Planned replacement with a viewing platform and boardwalk at Mulberry Pond.
- Parking Upgrade: Improvements at Mulberry Landing Boat Ramp's parking lot.
- Pier Improvement: A refurbished pier at Piney Point since January 2023 for crabbing and fishing on Vines Creek.
- Tidal Marsh Restoration: Over 50 acres north of Miller Creek were revitalized using material from Whites Creek.
- Freshwater Wetland Creation: Development of new wetlands in Muddy Neck fields, offsetting impacts of a new bike path along Double Bridges Road.
Discover the enigmatic charm of Assawoman Wildlife Area, a serene "hidden jewel" amidst the Inland Bays.