The Great Cypress Swamp, or just “The Swamp” is situated on the Southern edge of Sussex county and spills over into both Wicomico an Worcester Counties in Maryland. Historically, the Swamp was known as the headwaters of the Pocomoke River, but ditching in the 1930’s has diverted a large portion of its drainage to the Delaware Inland Bays.
The character and history surrounding The Great Cypress Swamp are as diverse and intriguing as its flora and fauna, and it offers endless opportunities for research about historic and ecological amenities of the region. On the geological timescale, The Swamp shows evidence of sandy ridges and shallow depressions, which are remnants of the previous ice-age when the Delmarva Peninsula was a desert of windswept sand dunes. Today, “The Swamp” is marked by hundreds of years of ditching and draining for agriculture, extensive timbering, and two major historical fires, the second of which is believed to have been started by the explosion of a prohibition-era still. Over the course of 35 years or more, Delaware Wild Lands has consolidated 10,000 acres of land in Sussex County, Delaware and Worcester County, Maryland to protect what remains of this once vast 50,000 to 60,000-acre swamp. Just behind the Roman Fisher Farm, Baldcypress knees and the swollen trunks of Black Tupelo rise from tannin-amber water in a scene more reminiscent of the swamps in the Carolinas. Deeper in the heart of The Swamp, the broad leaves of Swamp Cottonwood shade vernal pools and remnant stands of Atlantic White-cedar that serve as a reminder of what the forest once looked like. Delaware Wild Lands’ current management efforts in The Swamp include:
- Extensive hydrological restoration to restore native plant and wetlands communities like Atlantic white cedar and Baldcypress
- Habitat improvement projects to increase species diversity and promote desired plant and animal communities
- Over a decade of intensive deer management and rigorous data collection, resulting in a healthier, more balanced deer herd and recognition as the Quality Deer Management Association’s first “Legacy Lands” certified property