Delaware’s coastal area is experiencing tremendous population growth. For example, the population of Sussex County increased by 38% between the years 1990 and 2000. The growth along the coast was even higher — in the neighborhood of 59%.
On Thursday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m., at the University of Delaware’s College of Marine Studies in Lewes, Jim Falk, director of the Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, will discuss “Our Growing Coastal Communities: How Can We Maintain the Quality of Life?” Falk’s lecture will kick off the Ocean Currents Lecture Series, which is held on the third Thursday of the month, from April through September, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
Coastal areas are an important, yet fragile, natural resource. Beach dunes act as a natural barrier, thereby protecting inland areas from the high waves and flooding that accompany storms. In addition, coastal wetlands provide valuable habitat to a rich diversity of wildlife, from shorebirds to finfish.
“Unsustainable growth can adversely affect the qualities that are so cherished by residents and visitors alike,” says Falk. “Rampant growth can lead to congested highways, overdevelopment, and degradation of the natural resources of the area. To avoid this scenario, development must proceed in a way that minimizes the impacts to the environment but still meet the needs of the present population without compromising those of future generations.”
Falk also will share the results of a survey of Sussex County residents that he and his research team conducted in 2003. This survey asked the residents how they felt about growth and development within the county and how it affects their quality of life.
“The results indicate that although most residents rate their ‘quality of life’ as very high, there are many problems that need to be addressed,” says Falk. “The Delaware Sea Grant program, along with colleagues in other colleges within the University, are attempting to address land use development issues facing residents and decision makers in southern Delaware.”
A resident of Rehoboth Beach, Falk has a master’s degree in recreation and resource development from Texas A&M University in College Station. He joined Delaware Sea Grant as a marine recreation and tourism specialist in 1978 and became director of the Marine Advisory Service in February 1999. He has focused his outreach efforts on projects such as invasive species awareness, ecotourism, and boating and beach safety.
Falk serves on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the Center of the Inland Bays and is a board member of the Southern Delaware Tourism Commission. Throughout his career, he has been recognized by many organizations for his public service in areas ranging from boater education to beach safety. In 2004, he was honored with the Southern Delaware Tourism Award that recognized his research and outreach contributions to the organization.
The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279.