Taylors Bridge

These coastal salt marshes, like those throughout the Delaware Bay, provide nursery grounds for resident and migratory fish, protection from flood and storm damage, and feeding grounds for over 200 wetland dependent avian, aquatic, and mammalian species.

In 1961, Shell Oil Company began purchasing land in the upper Delaware Bay area with the intent of constructing an oil refinery and petrochemical complex.  At the time, Delaware was divided in its support for a refinery. The potential for job creation was directly at odds with environmental concerns, and it became clear that the pristine habitat of Blackbird Creek and its surrounding marshes needed protection.

In an effort to prevent Shell Oil Company from obtaining one large contiguous tract of land, Delaware Wild Lands began acquiring property around Taylors Bridge starting in 1966. The 700-acre Dickinson Farm bordering Blackbird Creek and the 710-acre Liston/Francis Farm marked our first major purchases in the area.  We acquired an additional 700 acres of marshland fronting the Delaware River over the next several years.

Recognizing the need for regulatory protection that would complement land acquisition efforts, Governor Russell Peterson signed the Delaware Coastal Zone Act in 1971. Following several unsuccessful challenges to the Coastal Zone Act, Shell Oil abandoned its plans to construct an oil refinery. In 1984, Delaware Wild Lands and the State of Delaware purchased from Shell Oil an additional 2,700 acres on the shoreline representing a significant victory for the conservation movement.

Delaware Wild Lands now owns and manages more than 3,300 acres of pristine coastal salt marsh and waterfowl habitat in this sensitive ecological region.

Acquisition of the Taylors Bridge Roberts Farm, with its 1,250 acres along Blackbird Creek and the Appoquinimink River is our latest conservation success story in southern New Castle County, completed proudly in partnership with The Conservation Fund and Mt. Cuba Center.

Putting the Puzzle Together

The Taylors Bridge Roberts Farm is especially important because it connects to other key land and waters in this sensitive ecological region. Protection of the Roberts Farm completes a crucial piece in the larger conservation puzzle by creating more than 10,000 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat in one of the most rapidly developing areas of the state.

Now protected forever, this block of 10,000 acres at Taylors Bridge is comprised of 4,500 acres of land owned by Delaware Wild Lands and 5,500 acres of the state-owned Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area. This landscape also supports the health and vitality of other protected lands in the region including the Blackbird-Millington Corridor and the Blackbird Creek Reserve component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR).