Delaware Native Plant Society

Delaware Native
Plant Society

P.O. Box 369
Dover, DE 19903

Flash photos courtesy of
David G. Smith at

Plant Rescues

Each year the DNPS makes an effort to go to sites that are slated for development and “rescues” plants from those sites. We are informed of these sites by our network of members, friends, and professional colleagues. We then contact the land owners, hopefully obtain permission to enter the property prior to the commencement of construction activities, then schedule as many volunteer work days as we can and go in to dig plants out. These plants are then brought back to the nursery (as well as taken home by the volunteers) and cared for during the rest of the season.

Just a few rescues we have done in the past:

DelDOT Route 1 forest: This was our first rescue operation, and it took place on 10 June 2000, when several DNPS members rescued more than 30 native trees and shrubs from a forested DelDOT site that was in the process of being cleared for a new section of Route 1. We had hoped to rescue more plants than we did, but we only had this one day to undertake the operation, there were only three members able to participate in this project, and we could hear the machinery working nearby, so we had to act fast. These were some of the first plants to placed in our newly established nursery at the St. Jones Reserve.

Killens Pond State Park: On 6 December 2006, a small group of Society members got together and we dug up approximately 70 plants of approximately 12 species in a small section of forested habitat that was going to be impacted for the placement of a new building. The operation went very well (even though part of our time was spent avoiding the skid steers as they moved around us digging up the site). It added some great plants to our inventory in the nursery, and all of them were sold at the 2006 annual plant sale.

MidShore II Landfill, Caroline Co., MD: On several dates in the spring of 2007, and in cooperation with the Maryland Native Plant Society, we descended upon this site to rescue as many plants as we could. The site was an intact, mature forest, but was slated to become a new landfill, and it was clear cut by the developers before we had the opportunity to dig mature plants out. Between the many volunteers that participated over several dates, we were able to dig out hundreds of newly emerging seedlings of many species. These plants made their way to people’s homes, and the nurseries of the MNPS and the DNPS. It was a very successful rescue, but was tinged with a lot of sadness over the sight of such a beautiful forest destroyed.

We will be posting volunteers dates for plant rescues periodically throughout the year, so keep checking our calendar on this site. And we are always on the lookout for opportunities. If you know of any sites scheduled for development, please contact us so we can pursue the possibility of doing a rescue there.

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