Fork Branch Nature Preserve in Dover grows

DOVER — The Fork Branch Nature Preserve, the only nature preserve within a city’s limits in Delaware, is expanding. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said Monday it recently acquired 41 acres of land adjacent to the preserve in Dover.

The property includes agricultural fields, wetlands and young forest. Located at the corner of Dennys and Kenton roads, the new acquisition is home to mature trees and extensive freshwater wetlands, as well as a wide variety of wildlife.

It is the last major portion of open land acquired by the state from the children of the late James and Anne McClements: Mary Jane, Nancy, Jimmy, Walter and Bill. The Fork Branch Nature Preserve was created when Mr. McClements sold 247 acres of his land at a significant discount to the state in 2003, and his children donated an additional 5.62 acres to the state last year.

This latest property will be known as the Terry and Tom Burns Tract after a family friend who helped facilitate the deal.

Mike and Anne Dagen of Dover enjoy the walk at Fork Branch Nature Preserve, the only preserve within a city’s limits in Delaware that is now expanding.. Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller

“We have a hidden gem right here in Dover thanks to the McClements family and the efforts of the Kent County Conservancy,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement. “The addition of the Burns Tract to the existing preserve protects valuable natural resources in this growing area.”

The Burns Tract was funded with $900,000 from DNREC’s Open Space Program of which the McClements family returned $90,000 to the preserve’s permanent endowment for maintenance. The Kent County Conservancy, a local non-profit land trust, worked with DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, Tom Burns and the McClements family to make the purchase possible.

“Jim and Anne McClements were very committed to preserving the natural integrity of these woodlands,” Mr. Burns said. “So this final piece of the puzzle is really an enduring tribute to them.”

“We have a hidden gem right here in Dover thanks to the McClements family and the efforts of the Kent County Conservancy,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement. “ Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller