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Resident Noncitizens May Qualify for Federal Disaster Aid

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:29

Montgomery, Ala. – Residents of Alabama who are not U. S. citizens but who are in the United States legally may be eligible for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for losses suffered as a result of the April 28 to May 5 severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.

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Categories: Federal News

Cape Henlopen State Park to celebrate its 50th anniversary

DNREC News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 11:28
LEWES (June 26, 2014) – Cape Henlopen State Park turns 50 this year, and there will be plenty of activities to mark the milestone occasion. It is Delaware’s largest state park at 5,320 acres. The park is renowned for its five miles of beautiful ocean beaches, dynamic dune environment, stunning coastal and tidal wetland views, woodland trails, and a rich cultural and historic heritage. There is an Observation Tower (an old World War II fire control tower open to the public that features 115 steps to the top,

Don’t Forget to File a Flood Insurance Claim

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:13

MONTGOMERY, Ala. ‒ Homeowners and business owners who experienced flooding during the April 28 to May 5 presidentially declared disaster should file a claim for flooding loss as soon as possible, as claimants must file for their losses within 60 days of the event. 

Contact your agent or insurance company to file a claim. An adjuster from the insurance company should contact you within a few days of filing a claim. If you do not hear from an adjuster, call your insurance agent or company again. Make sure you have the following information handy:

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Helpline can Answer Questions about Letters

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:09

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – If you receive a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, take the time to carefully read the information and instructions regarding your application for assistance.

If you still have questions, you should call FEMA’s helpline: 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585.  The helpline will be operating on the July 4th holiday.

FEMA notification letters may refer to issues with an application such as:

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Categories: Federal News

Tell Your Friends, Only One Week Left to Register With FEMA

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:00

MONTGOMERY, Ala., -- Just one week remains to register for federal disaster assistance for those who sustained damage from the April 28 to May 5 severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding.

Perhaps you registered, but what about your family, friends and neighbors? Don’t let them pass up help for which they may be eligible.

Help spread the word that the deadline to register with FEMA and to return an application for physical damage to the SBA is Tuesday, July 1.

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Categories: Federal News

Churches and Other Nonprofits May Rebuild with SBA Loans

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:58

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Churches, temples, mosques and other religious centers, as well as other private nonprofit organizations in Alabama’s storm-damaged designated counties, are eligible to apply for U. S. Small Business Administration loans to help rebuild. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, July 1.

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid for Alabama Reaches More Than $29 Million

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:51

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- More than $18 million has been approved through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Households Program. The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $11 million through its low-interest disaster loan program.

The following numbers, compiled June 19, provide a snapshot of the Alabama/FEMA disaster recovery to date:

Funds approved

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Categories: Federal News

Several Good Reasons to Apply for an SBA Low-Interest Disaster Loan

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:46

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Some disaster survivors think that U.S. Small Business Administration loans are only for businesses. That is not the case – it is the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery assistance for disaster survivors.

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Categories: Federal News

Housing Search Site May Help with Rental Housing Needs

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:42

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – If the late-April storms, tornadoes and flooding wrecked your home and you still have not found a place to live, an online source of rental housing may help.

ALHousingSearch.org  (Alabama Housing Search) has up-to-date listings of rental properties in most of the larger Alabama towns and cities with prices and interactive maps so a storm survivor may find a suitable location for a household.

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Categories: Federal News

Carbon Storage in U.S. Eastern Ecosystems Helps Counter Greenhouse Gas Emissions Contributing to Climate Change

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:33
Summary: On the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a new report showing that forests, wetlands and farms in the eastern United States naturally store 300 million tons of carbon a year (1,100 million tons of CO2 equivalent), which is nearly 15 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year or an amount that exceeds and offsets yearly U.S. car emissions Interior Releases Report on Anniversary of President’s Climate Action Plan; New Visualization Tool Helps Land Managers Make Smart, Informed Landscape-Level Decisions

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Anne-Berry Wade ( Phone: 703-648-4483 );



WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a new report showing that forests, wetlands and farms in the eastern United States naturally store 300 million tons of carbon a year (1,100 million tons of CO2 equivalent), which is nearly 15 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year or an amount that exceeds and offsets yearly U.S. car emissions. 

In conjunction with the national assessment, today USGS also released a new web tool, which allows users to see the land and water carbon storage and change in their ecosystems between 2005 and 2050 in the lower 48 states.  This tool was called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan.  

“Today we are taking another step forward in our ongoing effort to bring sound science to bear as we seek to tackle a central challenge of the 21st century – a changing climate,” said Secretary Jewell.  “This landmark study by the U.S. Geological Survey provides yet another reason for being good stewards of our natural landscapes, as ecosystems play a critical role in removing harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that contributes to climate change.” 

With today’s report on the eastern United States, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has completed the national biological carbon assessment for ecosystems in the lower 48 states – a national inventory of the capacity of land-based and aquatic ecosystems to naturally store, or sequester, carbon, which was called for by Congress in 2007. 

Together, the ecosystems across the lower 48 states sequester about 474 million tons of carbon a year (1,738 million tons of CO2 equivalent), comparable to counter-balancing nearly two years of U.S. car emissions, or more than 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions EPA estimates the country emits each year.

The assessment shows that the East stores more carbon than all of the rest of the lower 48 states combined even though it has fewer than 40 percent of the land base.  Under some scenarios, USGS scientists found that the rate of sequestration for the lower 48 states is projected to decline by more than 25 percent by 2050, due to disturbances such as wildfires, urban development and increased demand for timber products.

“What this means for the future is that ecosystems could store less carbon each year,” said USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball. “Biological sequestration may not be able to offset greenhouse gas emissions nearly as effectively when these ecosystems are impaired.”

Forests accounted for more than 80 percent of the estimated carbon sequestered in the East annually, confirming the critical role of forests highlighted in the Administration’s climate action initiative.

USGS scientists have been building the national assessment since a 2007 congressional mandate in the Energy Independence and Security Act.  The first report, on the Great Plains, was released in 2011, the second report, on the Western United States, was released in 2012.  Reports on Alaska and Hawaii are expected to be completed in 2015.   

Biological carbon storage – also known as carbon sequestration – is the process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere and stored as carbon in vegetation, soils and sediment.  The USGS inventory estimates the ability of different ecosystems to store carbon now and in the future, providing vital information for land-use and land-management decisions.  Management of carbon stored in our ecosystems and agricultural areas is relevant both for mitigation of climate change and for adaptation to such changes.

The area studied for the eastern U.S. carbon assessment was defined by similarities in ecology and land cover. The study area extends eastward from the western edge of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi floodplains, across the Appalachian Mountains, to the coastal plains of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The major ecosystems USGS researchers evaluated were terrestrial (forests, wetlands, agricultural lands, shrublands and grasslands), and aquatic (rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters).

MAJOR FINDINGS ON BIOLOGICAL CARBON STORAGE

IN THE EASTERN UNITED STATES

 U.S. Geological Survey, June 2014

Major Findings: Current Eastern Carbon Storage (between 2001 and 2005)

●     The eastern U.S., with just under 40 percent of the land in the lower 48 states, stores more carbon than the rest of the conterminous United States.

●     Forests, which occupy about half the land in the East, accounted for more than 80 percent of the region’s estimated carbon sequestered annually. They are the largest carbon-storing pools, and have the highest rate of sequestration of the different ecosystem types.

●     Wetlands, including coastal ones, which comprise only about 9 percent of the land cover in the region studied, account for nearly 13 percent of the region’s estimated annual carbon storage. They also have the second-highest rate of sequestration of all ecosystem types. Nutrients and sediments in rivers and streams flowing from terrestrial environments contribute significantly to the storage of carbon in eastern coastal sediments and deep ocean waters.

●     In contrast, carbon dioxide is emitted from the surface of inland water bodies (rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs), equal to about 18 percent of the recent annual carbon sequestration rate of terrestrial ecosystems in the East.

●     Agricultural areas cover about 31 percent of the East, and account for only 4 percent of the region’s annually sequestered carbon.  

●     Grasslands and shrublands, as well as other types of land, contained just 1.1 percent or less of the region’s carbon.

Major Findings: Projected Changes in Eastern Carbon by 2050

●     The eastern United States is projected to continue to be a carbon sink (absorbs more carbon than it emits) through 2050, increasing the carbon stored by as much as 37 percent.  However, the rate of sequestration is projected to slow by up to 20 percent, primarily because of decreases in the amount of forest cover.

●     Land use is projected to continue to change in the future; landscape changes are projected to be between 17 and 23 percent by 2050 under different scenarios. These changes, primarily the result of demands for forest products, urban development and agriculture, could affect the future potential storage capacity of the region’s ecosystems and other lands because future carbon stocks are inextricably linked to land-use practices and changes.  

●     The area projected to experience the most change – about 30 percent -- is the southeastern United States, primarily because of conversion of land from forests to agricultural and urban land.

●     By 2050, coastal carbon storage could increase by 18 to 56 percent.  Land-use changes could increase nutrient and sediment flow from urban and agricultural lands (which presents a separate challenge), but this would also increase the amount of carbon stored in coastal areas.                                                                

For more information on the assessment, visit HERE. Watch a short video on the assessment HERE.

Visit the web tool HERE. Watch a tutorial on how to use the web tool HERE.

Read some FAQs on the Eastern Carbon Report

FEMA Grants Must Be Spent Wisely

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 16:24

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - More than $18 million in federal disaster relief is already in the hands of Alabama survivors six weeks after the devastating storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reminds those receiving grant payments to spend wisely.

Survivors should only use Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance grants to meet specific disaster-related needs.

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Categories: Federal News

Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late: Have a Back-up Plan and Register by June 30

FEMA Press Releases - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 15:05

JACKSON, Miss. – If you sustained damage from the April 28 through May 3 severe storms, tornadoes and flooding, your insurance settlement may not cover all of your expenses. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration encourage you to register for disaster assistance by Monday, June 30, 2014, as it may help cover unexpected disaster expenses that arise later.

Register for FEMA assistance and you may avoid unexpected, uncovered expenses, such as:

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Categories: Federal News

Visualize This: Carbon Storage Tool for Now and the Future

USGS Newsroom - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 11:00
Summary: Announced on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (310 KB PDF; page 16 - Providing a Toolkit for Climage Resilience), a new “Land Carbon Viewer” allows users to see the land carbon storage and change in their ecosystems between 2005 and 2050 in the lower 48 states

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 ); Brad Reed ( Phone: 703-648-4564 );



NOTE TO REPORTERS: A step-by-step video demonstration on using the tool is available online.

RESTON, Va.— Announced on the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan (310 KB PDF; page 16 - Providing a Toolkit for Climage Resilience), a new “Land Carbon Viewer” allows users to see the land carbon storage and change in their ecosystems between 2005 and 2050 in the lower 48 states.

The Land Carbon Viewer Website, developed by U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with the University of California-Berkeley, is based on the national biological carbon assessment for ecosystems, completing the carbon inventory for the lower 48.

The new Land Carbon Viewer will give the public access to the national inventory of the capacity of land-based ecosystems to naturally store, or sequester, carbon. Researchers used the data on ecosystem carbon storage, or sequestration, in the national assessment to build maps, graphs and text for the land carbon viewer.

The resulting products will help land and resource planners and policy makers easily see how much carbon is sequestered in the different land types in their regions now, and up to 2050, under various land-use and climate scenarios. The tool also allows users to download data in their particular areas or ecosystems of interest.

“The new Land Carbon Viewer demonstrates how the Interior Department can significantly contribute to the U.S. effort to establish a national carbon inventory and tracking system as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS director.  “USGS is committed to taking the next step, which is to make this approach useful for specific sites and situations.  Incorporating carbon science directly into management planning is critical to ensure sound land use and land management decisions that will affect future generations.”

The USGS mapped how much carbon is sequestered in ecosystems using streamgage, soil and natural-resource inventory data, remote sensing techniques, and computer models. Based on the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s ecoregion map, the USGS Land Carbon Viewer shows the lower 48 divided into 16 ecoregions defined by similarities in ecology and land cover. The ecosystems examined are terrestrial (forests, wetlands, agricultural lands, shrublands and grasslands), and aquatic (rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters).

For example, the Southeastern USA Plains Ecoregion is the largest ecoregion in the eastern United States, and users can explore the baseline (2001-2005) and future (2006-2050) carbon storage in different kinds of ecosystems using three different IPCC carbon emission scenarios combined with economic models:

●      Moderate population growth, high economic growth, rapid technical innovation and balanced energy use,

●      Continuous population growth, uneven economic and technical growth, and carbon emissions triple through the 21st century, and

●      High economic growth, a population that peaks by mid-century and then declines, a rapid shift toward clean energy technologies, and a CO2 concentration that approximately doubles by 2100.

“The new USGS Land Carbon Viewer allows decision-makers to view and explore various ecoregions, and download data over their area of interest,” said Suzette Kimball.  “The resulting products will help land and resource planners and policy makers easily see how much carbon is sequestered in the different land types in their regions now, and up to 2050, under various land-use and climate scenarios.”

Among the many benefits of ecosystems and farmlands to society, these areas also store, or sequester, biological carbon. Biological carbon sequestration is the process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere and stored as carbon in vegetation, soils and sediment. Such storage reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Since a 2007 congressional mandate in the Energy Independence and Security Act, USGS scientists have been building a national inventory of the capacity of land-based ecosystems to store carbon naturally, information vital for science-based land use and land management decisions are expected to be completed in 2015.

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week is June 22 to 28

DNREC News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 10:40
DOVER (June 24, 2014) – The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has declared June 22-28 as the 18th annual National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, and in observance of the event, DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section is encouraging Delawareans to take precautions to avoid or reduce mosquito bites, and to put particular emphasis on eliminating backyard mosquito-producing habitat.

DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife to begin annual banding of barn owls

DNREC News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 16:47
DOVER (June 24, 2014) – Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists will begin banding barn owls this week during their annual checkup and cleaning of barn owl nesting boxes, including 17 boxes in state wildlife areas and eight boxes in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Banding provides valuable information on life span, home range, nest site fidelity and migratory patterns, and in estimating population size.

Cape Henlopen State Park and Cape May Lewes Ferry to celebrate 50th anniversaries with June 29 fireworks display

DNREC News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 16:31
LEWES (June 24, 2014) – Cape Henlopen State Park and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry are both celebrating 50 years of service to Delaware’s residents and guests. In honor of the milestone, a special fireworks presentation will be held at 9:15 p.m. Sunday, June 29 from the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. Public access to the pier will close to at 6 a.m. that morning to prepare for the fireworks display.

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 15:48

CHICAGO –Summertime is meant for enjoying outdoor activities, but if you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to put you in danger. In recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency want you to learn ways you can enjoy the warm temperatures and still protect yourself and your family when storm clouds roll in.  

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Categories: Federal News

NOAA, Partners Predict an Average 'Dead Zone' for Gulf of Mexico; Slightly Above-average Hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 14:05
Summary: Scientists are expecting an average, but still large, hypoxic or "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year, and slightly above-average hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay

Contact Information:

Ben Sherman ( Phone: 202-253-5256 ); Michael Woodside ( Phone: 615-837-4706 ); Ethan Alpern ( Phone: 703-648-4406 );



NOTE:  Link to the Maryland Department of Natural Resourses was changed in the 10th paragraph. (6/25/14)

Scientists are expecting an average, but still large, hypoxic or "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this year, and slightly above-average hypoxia in the Chesapeake Bay.  

NOAA-supported modeling is forecasting this year's Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone to cover an area ranging from about 4,633 to 5,708 square miles (12,000 to 14,785 square kilometers) or about the size of the state of Connecticut.

While close to averages since the late 1990s, these hypoxic zones are many times larger than what research has shown them to be prior to the significant human influences that greatly expanded their sizes and effects.  

The Gulf of Mexico prediction is based on models developed by NOAA-sponsored modeling teams and individual researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, and the U.S. Geological Survey,  and relies on nutrient loading estimates from the USGS. The models also account for the influence of variable weather and oceanographic conditions, and predict that these can affect the dead zone area by as much as 38 percent.  

A second NOAA-funded forecast, for the Chesapeake Bay, predicts a slightly larger than average dead zone in the nation's largest estuary. The forecast predicts a mid-summer low-oxygen hypoxic zone of 1.97 cubic miles, an early-summer oxygen-free anoxic zone of 0.51 cubic miles, with the late-summer oxygen-free anoxic area predicted to be 0.32 cubic miles. Because of the shallow nature of large areas of the estuary the focus is on water volume or cubic miles, instead of square mileage as used in the Gulf.

The Chesapeake Bay prediction is based on models developed by NOAA-sponsored researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, University of Michigan, and again relies on nutrient loading estimates from USGS.

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico affects nationally important commercial and recreational fisheries and threatens the region's economy. The Chesapeake Bay dead zones, which have been highly variable in recent years, threaten a multi-year effort to restore the water and habitat quality to enhance its production of crabs, oysters, and other important fisheries.

Hypoxic (very low oxygen) and anoxic (no oxygen) zones are caused by excessive nutrient pollution, primarily from human activities such as agriculture and wastewater, which results in insufficient oxygen to support most marine life and habitats in near-bottom waters. Aspects of weather, including wind speed, wind direction, precipitation and temperature, also affect the size of dead zones.

"We are making progress at reducing the pollution in our nation's waters that leads to 'dead zones,' but there is more work to be done," said Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "These ecological forecasts are good examples of the critical environmental intelligence products and tools that NOAA provides to interagency management bodies such as the Chesapeake Bay Program and Gulf Hypoxia Task Force.  With this information, we can work collectively on ways to reduce pollution and protect our marine environments for future generations."

Later this year, researchers will measure oxygen levels in both bodies of water. The confirmed size of the 2014 Gulf hypoxic zone will be released in late July or early August, following a mid-July monitoring survey led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. The final measurement in the Chesapeake will come in October following surveys by the Chesapeake Bay Program's partners from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

USGS nutrient-loading estimates for the Mississippi River and Chesapeake Bay are used in the hypoxia forecasts for the Gulf and Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake data are funded with a cooperative agreement between USGS and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. USGS also operates more than 65 real-time nitrate sensors in these two watersheds to track how nutrient conditions are changing over time.

For the Gulf of Mexico USGS estimates that 101,000 metric tons of nitrate flowed down the Mississippi River into the northern gulf in May 2014, which is less than the 182,000 metric tons in last May when stream flows were above average. In the Chesapeake Bay USGS estimates that 44,000 metric tons of nitrogen entered the bay from the Susquehanna and Potomac rivers between January and May of 2014, which is higher than the 36,600 metric tons delivered to the Bay during the same period in 2013.

"The USGS continues to conduct long-term nutrient monitoring and modeling" said William Werkheiser, USGS associate director for water. "This effort is key to tracking how nutrient conditions are changing in response to floods and droughts and nutrient management actions."

The research programs supporting this work are authorized under the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act, known as HABHRCA, which was recently amended and reauthorized earlier this month through 2018.

Gov. Markell, DNREC Sec. O’Mara announce repairs and restorations of New Castle levees

DNREC News - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 17:24
NEW CASTLE, Del. (June 23, 2014) – Today at the newly restored Gambacorta Marsh Dike, Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, State Senator Nicole Poore (D-Barbs Farm) and State Representative Michael Mulrooney (D-Pennwood) were joined by City of New Castle Mayor Donald Reese, council members and other officials to highlight a multi-year effort to repair and restore the centuries-old levees that provide the City of New Castle

Gov. Markell, DNREC Sec. O’Mara and Sen. Blevins announce new plans to build pedestrian and bicycle trail in Elsmere

DNREC News - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 16:46
ELSMERE, Del. (June 23, 2014) – Today, Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, and Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins met with Elsmere Mayor Steven Burg and council members to announce plans and funding for a new pedestr