Input wanted on Cape Henlopen State Park trail expansion

Kayakers paddle near the Breakwater Lighthouse at Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

LEWES — With 1.7 million visitors annually all types of people enjoy Cape Henlopen State Park.

About 60,000 users travel the park’s Junction and Breakwater Trail each year, and about 55,000 on Gordons Pond Trail, according to the state.

DNREC wants to hear from “the diverse group of users” who travel on the park’s trails, including “hikers, bikers and folks with disabilities, among others,” State Parks Director Raymond E. Bivens said Friday.

The trail system is targeted for expansion over the next decade, not only in mileage but also for a “more varied user group, expanding into untapped areas of the park, and changes in allowable uses,” according to DNREC.

Next Thursday, DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreaation will host a public open house to review the Cape Henlopen State Park Trail Concept Plan.

The event runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Services facility at 901 Pilottown Road in Lewes.

Mr. Bivens said DNREC staff will be present to answer individual questions in an informal setting, with a series of 12 informational map boards designed to illustrate a comprehensive look at future options and current conditions.

The state can pull money from its operating budget and Bond Bill depending on the projects approved, and federal grant funding is also possible.

The Division of Parks proposes expansion of 18.3 miles of currently permitted trail uses to 30.8, coming mostly with the addition of pedestrian and bicycle access.

Mr. Bivens said the growing availability should be minimally invasive to the outdoor setting.

“We’re talking about over a decade of expansion focused on more of a single track pathway in a natural setting,” Mr. Bivens said.

DNREC has been gathering information from frequent user trail groups and wants to gauge further interest through public meetings.

The public can continue to provide feedback and insight for the next two weeks following, Mr. Bivens said.

“We don’t want this to be a group of DNREC staff only deciding what’s best for the park,” Mr. Bivens said. “Those who use it are affected by any changes and need to have a say in what those are.”

More information is available online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/parks/Information/Pages/Cape-Henlopen-Trail-Concept-Plan.aspx. In an a meeting announcement to the public, DNREC said, “Comments you provide will be carefully assessed and evaluated in finalizing a trail plan for the park.”

All comments submitted online must be sent by May 20.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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