Sussex Co. acquires 151 acres of land to be used for preservation efforts

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. – Tuesday, Sussex County officials announced the acquirement of four parcels of land for preservation. “I think this is fulfilling the public’s view that the County Council should be acquiring open space for public access, or just for preservation purposes. The county has been doing that over a number of years, and this is just the most recent round of acquisitions,” said Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson.

The purchase captures 151 acres of land, at a cost of $5,050,000. Purchased properties include 51 acres of the Hopkins Preserve near Lewes, 47 acres known as the Jones Family tract near Millsboro, 40 acres of the Dawson Bros. tract near Millsboro, and 13 acres of the Dorman Family Farm Preserve near Angola.

Lawson says Sussex County Council is trying to strike a balance between preserving farmland and wilderness, and allowing room for land development. “There definitely has to be a balance. Sussex County is a desired place, so we are seeing a lot of development. At the same time, property rights is one of our fundamental principles in developing guideposts for the County Council in decision making,” he said.

The purchases come as pressure to develop county land increases, according to Lawson. “One of the ways to help mitigate some of that is to purchase land that hasn’t been developed for preservation and public access,” he said.

In particular, Lawson says the purchase of the Hopkins Preserve could help the county to complete projects catering to public use. “Its proximity to development, as well as the population centers of Lewes, Rehoboth, and Milton really was a key asset for us to be able to acquire. And, it’s right next to the Lewes Georgetown bike path,” he said.

The Sussex County Land Trust (SCLT) played an instrumental role in completing the purchases, according to county officials. Fourth generation farmer Walter Hopkins agrees, saying working with the SCLT wasn’t just about preserving land; but more so about giving back to the community.

“Extending the adjacent bike trail around the property; forging extensive walking trails through the meadows and woodland; enhancing the wildlife habitat; encouraging the planting and growth of local flora – this is what I see for the property,” Hopkins wrote in a release. “I look forward to the County and the Land Trust working together to bring that dream to fruition. This is truly a wonderful opportunity for the residents and visitors of Sussex County to enjoy for generations to come.”

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