The Bethany Beach Landowners Association (BBLA) is pleased to write in support of the Sussex County Wetlands & Buffers Working Group’s (WBWG) efforts, as described in the Summary Report published on Sept. 10, 2019.

BBLA agrees with the League of Women Voters of Sussex County April 23 letter expressing support for WBWG and their ongoing consideration of potential changes to the existing wetlands and buffer ordinance (letter published in the Coastal Point on April 24, 2020).

Taking a hard look at how best to protect and manage wetlands and buffers to wetlands and waterways is a critical aspect of any holistic strategy to address a myriad of inter-related environmental and social issues that challenge Sussex County, including Bethany Beach. For example, buffers can help with problems such as interior nuisance flooding, streambank and channel erosion, and the flow of pollutants into our waters.

Bethany Beach is a very special place, blessed with sun and sand, and also with critically important environmental resources in and around the community. It is the environmental values, in part, that attract people to live, work and vacation in our community.

Wetlands, and vegetated buffers, perform important water quality functions, such as filtration, trapping and filtering pollutants from roads, agricultural fields and other surfaces. They protect shorelines and stream banks from erosion and storm surges, and wetlands act as natural water storage areas during floods and groundwater recharge areas.

Besides these critical benefits, wetlands and buffers provide food and habitat for numerous fish and wildlife species. Pre-development (pre-1760), as much as 25 percent of Delaware was covered by wetlands, tidal and non-tidal, interspersed with beach, dunes and uplands, creating a unique mosaic of habitat types. Nearly 60 percent of Delaware’s pre-development wetlands have been lost.

For these reasons, the BBLA supports the efforts of Sussex County and its many communities, beach and non-beach, in efforts to look at ordinances and policies pertaining to wetlands and buffers for wetlands and other waterbodies. Such efforts, informed by experts and the public, can help us protect and restore the environmental and social values that make Sussex County and Bethany Beach unique.

Patrick McGuire

Bethany Beach Landowners Association