Get Ready For Great Photographs of Prime Hook Beach & Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge
A few miles east of Milton, Delaware, and 22 miles southeast of Dover, the quiet shores of Prime Hook Beach can be reached via Prime Hook Road, a left turn off of Delaware Route 1 South.
Directly behind the community of homes lining the beach is the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was created in 1963 by the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act as a sanctuary expressly for migrating birds. It encompasses nearly 10,000 diverse acres of freshwater and saltwater marshes, woodlands, grasslands, bottomland forested habitats, scrub brush zones, farming lands, ponds, and a seven mile long creek. Naturally occurring tidal salt marshes make up 2300 acres of the refuge, and man-made freshwater ponds cover 4000 acres. Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the freshwater impoundment systems were built in the 1980's to provide refuge officials the means to raise and lower water levels in the ponds to accommodate the needs of migratory birds during different seasons of the year. The ponds provided habitat for wintering waterfowl, places to feed for spring and fall migratory shorebirds, and nesting areas for wading birds in the summer.
And therein lies the rub. Having provided beautiful habitat for bird watching and wildlife viewing, the refuge created the perfect conditions for housing development along the bay coast: water views both east and west of established residences and newly built homes. But since 2006, multiple hurricanes have caused sea water to breach the dunes, causing an influx of sediment and saltwater into the freshwater ponds, killing most of the vegetation and limiting the use of the ponds by migrating and local birds, as well as by local wildlife populations.
The beauty of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge will be preserved in the beautiful photo layout in The News Journal on Sunday, but all of Delaware and the nation needs to rally behind permanently preserving our national wildlife refuges.