One More Click for Delaware’s First National Park
Earlier this year, I learned from a local outdoor club that the State of Delaware had been exploring the possibility of a National Park designation for a beautiful 2,100 acre tract of land known as the Woodlawn Property.
It’s an incredible, not so little slice of heaven for locals. Forrest land, rolling hills, great views and the Brandywine River accentuate the property. If someone set you down in the middle of it, you might think you were in a pristine backcountry setting and not on the outskirts of the City of Wilmington. Although privately owned, it had been open to the public for many years.
After hearing about this initiative, I called up Blaine Phillips to get a better picture of what was going on. He’s the VP and Mid-Atlantic Director of the Conservation Fund. He explained that Senator Tom Carper had been looking into potential sites for years. It’s ironic that Delaware, known as The First State… is the only state NOT to have a designated National Park site.
Blaine told me that the Conservation Fund was helping broker a purchase that would protect Woodlawn Property with generous support from the Mt. Cuba Center, a local non-profit horticultural organization. One important criterion was that the property had to be gifted to State or National Parks for protection and development.
He spoke of a big meeting in the following week and asked if I’d be willing to attend. Knowing that I could offer some support from the perspective of a local businessman, outdoor retailer and outdoor enthusiast, he felt that I’d be a welcome participant.
I have to say that it was amazing. The turn out was incredible. Among the many representatives, Jonathan Jarvis the Director of the National Park Service, made the point after careful consideration, that the parcel had met all criteria for their consideration as a National Historic Park. US Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons spoke in favor of the proposal and answered questions from the audience.
A few weeks later, Tim Barrett of the Conservation Fund asked me to speak on their behalf at the New Castle County board of directors meeting. A key resolution was up for a vote that night. It was one of the last big boxes that needed checked off in order for the proposal to go on to the federal government for consideration.
I addressed the chamber along side the Director of the Nature Conservancy, Richard Jones Jr. and not only did the resolution have unanimous approval… other councilmen were moved to stand up and ask if they could be included as co-sponsors of the resolution. From what I gather, it doesn’t happen very often.
Later that night over a few beers, Tim Barrett and I celebrated the victory. The next day I wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden and now the ball is in their court. Having a National Historic Park will mean greater visitation for the state, employment opportunities, increased tourism revenue and a significantly enhanced resource, inspiring the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts who may find as I do… that the more of an active outdoor lifestyle one leads, the happier and healthier they tend to be.
If you took the time to read this, please click on this link and push the button to submit a letter to the President urging him to take action on the Woodlawn project. We are so close to achieving the recognition and protection that this beautiful resource so richly deserves. Many thanks for your help in making this happen.