TOWNSEND, Del. — Volunteers are needed to plant 2,000 hardwood seedlings along the Cypress Branch at Blackbird State Forest on Saturday, September 17 to provide scenic beauty, enhance wildlife habitat, fight invasive species, and improve water quality in the critical Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
State Forester Michael Valenti said, “Planting trees is a great way to improve the environment and enhance air quality. Planting 2,000 hardwood seedlings near the Cypress Branch gives an added bonus of water quality protection and seed production that benefits local wildlife including wild turkeys. We’re looking for enthusiastic individuals and families to help us honor the bicentennial of Harriet Tubman’s birth by planting tree seedlings in an area that is part of the Underground Railroad Historic Byway in Delaware.”
Pre-registration is required for the tree planting being held on Saturday, September 17, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Blackbird State Forest’s Naudain Tract, 2076 Harvey Straughn Road, Townsend, Delaware 19734. This tree planting is a “rain or shine” event. Equipment, including shovels, will be provided. Volunteers are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather – wear boots or other work shoes, heavy-duty gloves and hats and bring insect repellent and sunscreen, if needed. Snacks will be provided and commemorative patches and T-shirts will be given to both youth and adult volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We know based on historic documentation that Harriet Tubman passed through the Blackbird area. This is why Blackbird has been considered an evocative landscape along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. Having a tree planting at Blackbird State Forest reminds us of the historic contribution that Harriet and others made to help freedom seekers through the Blackbird area,” said Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forester Kesha Braunskill. “Planting trees also is significant in building our tree canopy. Additionally, we want to remind Delaware residents that the Urban and Community Forestry Program is a resource in towns, neighborhoods and communities with technical and financial tree projects.”
Blackbird State Forest covers nearly 6,000 acres in southern New Castle County and is a stop on the historic Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. The tree planting is part of events to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Harriet Tubman’s birth in 1822. The project is funded by the U.S. Forest Service and its Chesapeake Bay Program and the Delaware Forest Service and its Urban and Community Program.
Directions to the Blackbird Forest Tree Planting Site
From the NORTH:
- Route 1 (TOLL): Take Rt. 1 South to Exit 136 toward Odessa (Rt. 299) and make a left at the light. At Rt. 299 (Main Street) in Odessa, turn right onto U.S. 13 South.
- U.S. 13: Take U.S 13 South until you reach Rt. 299 (Main Street) in Odessa. Proceed through the light (continue on U.S. 13 South).
- From Route 299 & U.S. 13: Continue on U.S. 13 south for 6.2 miles and then turn right onto Blackbird Forest Road (flashing light at the top of the hill). After 3.5 miles, turn right onto Oak Hill School Road. Continue for 2.9 miles and then turn right onto Harvey Straughn Road. Proceed for .3 miles and the destination will be on the left.
From the SOUTH:
- Route 1 (TOLL): Take Rt. 1 North to Exit 119 (N. Smyrna). Make a right onto Route 13 South. Proceed .8 miles to Duck Creek Road and make a right at the light.
- U.S. 13: Take U.S 13 North until you reach Duck Creek Road north of Smyrna (just past Visitor Center and Smokey Bear sign on the right). Turn left at light for Duck Creek Road.
- From Duck Creek Road & U.S. 13: Proceed west for .8 miles on Duck Creek Road and turn right onto Vandyke Greenspring Road. Continue on Vandyke Greenspring Road for 4.4 miles and turn left onto Harvey Straughn Road. In 2 miles, turn left to stay on Harvey Straughn Road. Proceed for .3 miles and the destination will be on the right.
For more information on the Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Tree Planting and to pre-register, visit https://de.gov/treeevents.
–Sophia Curran, Delaware Forest Service