Conservation and Restoration at Abbott’s Mill

By Jason Beale, Manager, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center

Abbott’s Mill Nature Center has thrived in recent years due to the dedication of staff, volunteers, and partners in state and private conservation organizations.   The land base around the center has grown from just a few acres in the early 1980’s to 106 contiguous acres along Johnson’s Branch. 

Morton Farm, December 2008, looking toward Abbott's Mill
Morton Farm, December 2008, looking toward Abbott's Mill

A key acquisition was the 13.8 acre Morton Farm.  This piece sits between the Lindale/Isaacs Tracts and Nature Center/Mill complex on the western edge of Abbotts Pond.  In 2008, volunteers, staff, and the Division of Fish and Wildlife worked to clean-up the site for educational use and wildlife. 

Pond Prep - A human home becomes a home for wildlife
Pond Prep - A human home becomes a home for wildlife

A seasonal pool now hosts breeding Fowler’s Toads and Cope’s Gray Treefrogs where a house stood just a year ago.   A series of bird boxes provide nesting habitat for Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, House Wren, and Purple Martins.

Fowler's Toad Tadpoles in Morton Pool
Fowler's Toad Tadpoles in Morton Pool

Exciting changes are currently underway in the roughly 10 acres of fallow farm field.    1.5 acres along the pond edge have been planted with native tree seedlings donated by Milford Parks and Recreation.  The remaining 8.5 acres are currently being planted in native warm season grasses and wildflowers through a USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program) grant that Delaware Nature Society received.  The grant also includes 6.5 acres in the Lee Meadow to the north of the Nature Center.  Site preparation and planting is slated to be completed by late June.  This site should improve habitat for a variety of insects, mammals, and birds including Grasshopper and Savanna Sparrows.

Grasshopper Sparrow by Chuck Fullmer
Grasshopper Sparrow by Chuck Fullmer

This project, with its the native meadows, riparian buffers, and thriving wildlife, is an excellent example of local citizens and conservation organizations coming together to protect and enhance Delaware’s natural beauty.  Thanks to all who have lent a hand.

Upcoming programs with the Delaware Nature Society: Whip-poor-will Evening June 12, Pine Barrens Orchids and other Wildflowers June 18.  See www.delawarenaturesociety.org for more details.

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