Cape Gazette
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Friday Editorial

Freshwater marsh important for Prime Hook

Jul 19, 2013

As plans continue to progress for reinvigorating the dune and marsh systems at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, special attention needs to be given to that section of the refuge known as Unit 3. Unit 3 is bordered by Broad­kill Beach along the bay and lies between Prime Hook Road and Broadkill Beach Road.

To the south is the Primehook Creek fresh­water system that drains into the Prime Hook marshes and provides the unique opportunity to enhance and sustain one of the finest fresh­water marshes along the Atlantic Coast.

The two roads and Broadkill Beach create a natural and manmade diking system that, with proper management, can restore Unit 3 to freshwater marsh status. That would also help keep Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge true to its original mission of provid­ing a resting and feeding refuge for migratory waterfowl in the Atlantic Flyway.

It’s the feeding aspect of the mission that the freshwater system addresses. Fifteen years ago, the carefully managed freshwater marsh, in cooperation with nature, produced huge quantities of food to nourish hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese each winter.

Add to that the natural beauty of lily pads and other colorful vegetation in freshwater marshes, and there is a natural system worthy of pursuing and preserving.

Past efforts have demonstrated that a mod­est investment in water-control structures in Prime Hook’s Unit 3 can result in a magnifi­cently beautiful and productive freshwater marsh. Ducks Unlimited was involved in the initiative before and should also join forces again. Such an initiative fits perfectly with the conservation mission of that organization supported so generously and energetically by Delaware hunters for several decades.

It’s not often that man’s and nature’s efforts can be combined so fruitfully and simply as the freshwater marsh opportunity at Prime Hook. With the restoration and enhance­ment of the saltwater marshes and dunes to the north, and the restoration of Unit 3 as the productive freshwater marsh that experience shows it can be, Prime Hook National Wild­life Refuge can become the comprehensive wildlife, waterfowl, shorebird and botanical wonderland that its founders first envisioned.

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