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Department of Natural Resources acquires additional acreage for Fork Branch Nature Preserve

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control recently acquired 41 acres of land adjacent to the Fork Branch Nature Preserve in Dover.

The property includes agricultural fields, wetlands and young forest, and adds to the only nature preserve within a municipal boundary in Delaware.

The new acquisition is located at the corner of Dennys and Kenton roads, and is the last major portion of open land acquired by the state from the children of late James and Anne McClements: Mary Jane, Nancy, Jimmy, Walter and Bill. The Fork Branch Nature Preserve was created when James McClements sold 247 acres of his land at a significant discount to the state in 2003. His children donated an additional 5.62 acres to the state in 2019. This latest property will be known as the Terry and Tom Burns Tract to acknowledge Tom’s longstanding friendship with the McClements family and role in facilitating the protection of these lands.

DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said Dover is fortunate to have nearly 300 acres of open space that is home to a mature forest.

“We have a hidden gem right here in Dover thanks to the McClements family and the efforts of the Kent County Conservancy,” said Garvin. “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 nonprofit land trust, worked with DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, Tom Burns and the McClements family to make this purchase possible.

“Of all the lands the Division of Parks and Recreation and the Conservancy had identified for protection, this parcel was the one that was most threatened,” said Charles Salkin, of the Conservancy. “The existing Anne McClements Woods portion of the Fork Branch Nature Preserve is an ecological gem.”

In addition to mature trees, the Preserve is home to extensive freshwater wetlands and habitat that supports an impressive variety of wildlife.

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