First State National Historical Park
New Castle, DE
First State National Historic Park is the first and only National Park in Delaware. The combination of the park’s lush natural resources, historic landmarks, picnic area, and proximity to large population centers has resulted in significant recreation-related impacts. The Hot Spot efforts were focused at the Smith Bridge Picnic Area which is routinely left riddled with litter, food scraps, and abandoned equipment such as grills. Left behind food waste is encouraging small wildlife to frequent the area, including Brandywine Creek, which serves as a water source for the city of Wilmington. The creek consistently has trash and plastics in its waters and on its banks. First State National historic Park is growing in popularity and the picnic area quickly reaches and exceeds capacity during busy evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Since the park is relatively new, the Hot Spot was well timed to guide the incorporation of Leave No Trace into management plans, signage, trailhead kiosks, and other facilities. The team hosted a workshop to help park staff incorporate Leave No Trace education into one-on-one interactions with visitors. Participants left the workshop well prepared to confidently approach visitors and address unwanted behaviors with a non-confrontational, educational Leave No Trace message that would have long term, positive effects on the park. The clean-up at the State Bridge Picnic Area helped remove a significant amount of trash left by weekend visitors and allowed the Traveling Trainers to share in-depth Leave No Trace education with volunteers. First State National Historic Park staff also identified the need for a video to help educate visitors about the park, the impacts the area is experienceing and the individual steps they can take to alleviate those impacts. The Traveling Trainers spent time collecting area footage, interviewing staff and visitors, and produced a short video that park staff can now utilize for visitor education where they see appropriate.
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