Environmental projects praised at meeting

The Citizen’s Advisory Committee – one of two standing committee to the Center for Inland Bays – heard on June 24 from outgoing Indian River High School senior Crystal Wright, about the school’s schoolyard habitat, as well as from Fenwick Island Town Councilman Todd Smallwood about Fenwick Island’s stormwater management and from Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver.

Wright, a Governor’s Volunteer Award winner along with chemistry teacher Cheryl Rehrig, presented the group with the outcomes and pictures from their schoolyard habitat, one of the largest and “most ambitious” of the projects, according to CIB Education and Outreach Coordinator Sally Boswell.

In addition to the habitat, the IRHS Environmental Club is also responsible for beach clean-ups, horseshow crab counting and dune grass planting. A separate environmental project – school-wide recycling – was also implemented by Wright and a friend a few years back.

Todd Smallwood, vice-mayor of Fenwick Island, presented the CAC with information about what Fenwick Island is doing to clean up the bays, specifically addressing stormwater management.

Smallwood said the town has had Delaware Emergency Management Agency officials out to help with their community rating system on flooding concerns, and they follow many of the established best management practices. He noted that their Public Works department is also trained in total maximum daily loads (TMDLs).

Since 2000, Fenwick Island has had an ordinance limiting impervious surfaces for driveways, as permeable surfaces are one way to filter stormwater runoff. He also mentioned the town’s Tree Triage program, started by CAC Secretary Martha Keller, in which the town planted 57 trees. And, he noted, 35 homes and the town hall have installed rain barrels. The town is also in the process of identifying an ideal spot for a demonstration rain garden.

Ed Lewandowski, executive director of the CIB, noted that he had been out with EPA representatives to the home of Fenwick Island resident Buzz Henifin. The Henifins participate in an oyster-gardening program – another one of Fenwick Islanders pet projects to improve water quality – and Lewandowski said they spotted eel grass, which is a good sign for the environment.

“You need damn good water quality for eel grass to grow,” said Lewandowski. “So take credit, man. You folks are doing something right.”

Deaver spoke to CAC members on June 24, echoing concerns she recently expressed over the appointment process for county planning commissioners by saying it is important for them to understand who they are electing.

“Five people have total control of all the land use,” she said, referencing her campaign theme of no more development without infrastructure. “There are a million more homes already approved, and week after week, we up-zone things. It’s outrageous. We are in big trouble. This is the county Titanic, in my opinion.”

Deaver encouraged the CAC to look at the county districts up for council re-election next year and how those seats affect the Inland Bays and their watershed.

“These people call the shots for your bays. You could have a million CIBs, and you don’t have a chance. These people rule everything,” Deaver said, emphasizing the importance of electing people who will “stand up and fight.”