DNREC reopens Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier after major repairs

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is joined by DNREC Secretary David Small, state Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, state Sen. Ernesto Lopez, R-Lewes, Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens and students from Millsboro Middle School on the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier before they cast the first fishing lines of the season from the pier. (DNREC photo/Matt Cardona)

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is joined by DNREC Secretary David Small, state Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, state Sen. Ernesto Lopez, R-Lewes, Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens and students from Millsboro Middle School on the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier before they cast the first fishing lines of the season from the pier. (DNREC photo/Matt Cardona)

LEWES — Dignitaries and students from Millsboro Middle School cast the first fishing lines of the season from the newly-repaired 1,300-foot Cape Henlopen State Park Fishing Pier.

“The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier is Delaware’s most popular recreational fishing structure, generating more than $700,000 in revenue per year for our economy,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell. “Our anglers, bird watchers and many other nature lovers can be outside, relax and enjoy nature.
And, the pier also helps further another goal for our state – to get children outside for healthy fun, and as a way to help develop their appreciation of the environment.”

The vintage World War II landmark has been restored for the use of anglers, bird watchers and leisure visitors. The 149 pilings that support the structure have been repaired or replaced and extensive decking repairs completed.

In addition to fishing and other recreational uses, the pier creates habitat for fish and other marine life. The pier has served as a platform for events and special promotions, and its bait and tackle concessionaire is a convenience for visitors and generates income for the park.

“We are pleased that the fishing pier, the most used in the state, is reopening in time for the Memorial Day holiday,” said DNREC Secretary Small. “Our thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its contribution of more than $350,000, and our local legislators who helped bring this very popular fishing pier back to life.”

The cost for repairs, decking, piles and engineering was funded by the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with contributions from Representatives Pete Schwartzkopf, Timothy Dukes and Steve Smyk, and Senator Ernesto Lopez, through their Community Transportation Fund allotments.

The all-wooden pier was built during World War II by the U.S. Army as a mining wharf and became state property when Cape Henlopen State Park was established in 1964. Since 2007, several rehabilitative efforts have been undertaken on the pilings beneath the pier.

The T-head portion of the pier was demolished in 2012 after its deteriorated condition was thought to pose a threat to safety and navigation by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, which has closely monitored the condition of the pier.

“The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier improves access to fishing and is a unique asset for anglers,” said Clark Evans with the Delaware Council on Recreational Fishing Funding. “Not only is the pier an ideal place to teach children how to fish, but it also accommodates older, less mobile anglers and those with physical disabilities.”

In addition to the reopening of the pier, parks officials also unveiled six new camping cabins at the Cape Henlopen State Park campground. This is in addition to six existing cabins, which have proven to be a popular success with parks visitors. The newly-dubbed “Cabin Village” is located next to the tent camping area in the park. The roadway that previously passed in front of the original six cabins has been converted into a cul-de-sac, with the new cabins encircling the roadway.

Delaware State Parks made the decision to add additional camping cabins following the success of the original six cabins during the peak of last year’s season. “With a 97 percent occupancy rate and more than 1,500 people enjoying the cabins last year, we saw a need to give more visitors the opportunity to enjoy what Cape Henlopen has to offer,” said Cape Henlopen State Park Manager Paul Faircloth. “According to last year’s numbers and the projected numbers for 2016, these cabins will allow us to host around 2,000 people throughout the peak season.”

Each new cabin is painted a different color, and several cabins feature dormers that enhance the interior space. All of the cabins are heated and air conditioned, but do not contain individual restrooms or kitchens. A bathhouse is located next to the Cabin Village, however, and each cabin has a picnic table and fire ring. The 476-square-foot cabins also feature screened porches.

More campground improvements are coming next fall. The campground will close on September 12, for the installation of electric service, improvements to the roadway and drainage systems, and construction of a camp store and laundry facility. Construction is expected to end in May 2017. The reopening of reservations for the park’s 2017 season will be announced in an e-newsletter later this summer.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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