COMMENTARY: Bombay Hook ‘excellent choice’ for new quarter

Delawareans will soon begin noticing something new in their pocket change — a quarter bearing a scene of Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

The coin is the latest issued under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program — a series of 56 quarters that feature sites in each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and several territories.

Harvey Kenton

Rep. Harvey Kenton

While our state is home to other areas worthy of national recognition, I think Bombay Hook was an excellent choice.
Bombay Hook’s 16,251 acres are jointly managed with 10,144-acre Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, just southeast of Milford, as the Coastal Delaware National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Together, these areas constitute more than 26,000 acres of freshwater pools, swamps, salt marshes and upland forests providing a unique habitat for a vast array of plants, fish, and animals – especially birds.

In addition to the blue heron and great egret depicted on the new Delaware quarter, more than 260 species of birds visit the refuges. In fact, according to Prime Hook Refuge Manager Arthur Coppola, multiple American white pelicans — rare for this area — are currently visiting.

The refuges also draw economic activity in the form of thousands of birders, hunters, hikers, photographers and others that visit each year. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for every dollar spent on the nation’s wildlife refuges, $23 in local stimulus is generated.

As we move into fall, summer insects are being replaced by tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl that will either use the refuges for a temporary stopover or will overwinter here.

There is no charge to visit Prime Hook. While Bombay Hook typically requires a $4 entrance fee, that modest charge will be waived on Sunday, Oct. 11, in observation of National Wildlife Refuge System week. Entrance will also be free on the third Saturday of each month between now and the end of the year.

Like New Yorkers who have never visited the Statue of Liberty, many local residents have never ventured into Bombay Hook or Prime Hook. For those Delawareans, the next few months will provide their best opportunity to see firsthand the unspoiled natural beauty that inspired the nation’s newest quarter.

EDITOR’S NOTE: State Rep. Harvey Kenton, of Milford, a Republican, represents the 36th District, which comprises Ellendale, Slaughter Beach, parts of Milford and surrounding unincorporated areas, including Broadkill Beach, Jefferson Crossroads, Lincoln and Prime Hook.

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