The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced April 26 that it acquired 86 acres of land in Yorklyn to expand the recently-created Auburn Valley State Park.

The preservation of the two parcels, each about 43 acres in size, will enable future expansion of recreational activities at the 452-acre park. The new land acquisition by DNREC will also benefit the Red Clay Creek watershed by protecting important headwaters and lands along a tributary to the creek.

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation acquired the property from the children of the Nancy Reynolds Cooch family. The sale was made possible through a donation from The Nature Conservancy in Delaware and grant funding through Mt. Cuba Center, ensuring that the land becoming part of the park will be preserved in its undeveloped state. The remaining funds were provided by the Delaware Open Space Program and secured by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation.

The Open Space Program was created by the Land Protection Act in 1990, with the goal of protecting land for recreation, wildlife habitat, state forests and lands of historical and cultural importance. Gov. John Carney’s 2019 budget provided $10 million in funding for the program.

The new parcels of undeveloped lands comprise a mix of hardwood forest and grasslands, and also include a stream that eventually flows into the Red Clay Creek, a source of drinking water for New Castle County. One of the new parcels shares a border with the 121-acre Oversee Farm, another part of Auburn Valley State Park acquired with assistance from the Nature Conservancy in Delaware. Protecting an additional 86 acres provides a wildlife migration corridor through privately and publicly owned lands that extend well into Pennsylvania.