Government & Politics

Small Discusses New Role As DNREC Secretary

3This month, David Small was sworn in as the 10th Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) , after having been unanimously confirmed by the State Senate for the cabinet position following his nomination by Governor Jack Markell. Sec. Small succeeds Collin O’Mara, who last month left DNREC and Gov. Markell’s cabinet to become president and chief executive officer of the National Wildlife Federation.

Secretary Small’s career at DNREC has spanned 27 years, serving six cabinet secretaries at the department. He has served as the Deputy Secretary since 2001. Sec. Small also worked as Executive Assistant to the Secretary from 1998 until 2001 having joined the department in 1987 as Chief of the Office of Information and Education. caught up with Secretary Small to discuss his new role as Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

Q – How does it feel to have this opportunity to serve the State of Delaware at this level ?

A – I am incredibly humbled and honored that the Governor asked me to take this job. The support that has been shown by members of the General Assembly, the conservation and business community and the great staff at DNREC has been overwhelming.  I am very excited to be taking over the leadership of this agency which touches people and our natural resources in so many different ways. Governor Markell and Secretary O’Mara have  developed and implemented a policy agenda that is improving our environment and making our incredible natural assets more accessible and I look forward to building on the many successes achieved during the past five years.

Q – In your opinion, what environmental opportunities and challenges does DE face moving forward.

A – Delaware’s water quality remains a top priority. While we have made strides in the past, too many of our waterways do not meet science-based standards for their designated uses, whether as drinking water, for recreational purposes or to support a broad array of aquatic life. We need to aggressively pursue the cleanup of our waterways while also finding solutions that concurrently reduce potential flooding from stormwater. To achieve our standards we will need to make additional investments in our wastewater, stormwater and drinking water infrastructure and I look forward to continue working with the Governor and General Assembly to identify steps that will help us reach those goals.

We need to continue to plan for and implement measures that will help make Delaware more resilient to climate change and sea level rise. We are working with our colleagues in other state agencies to develop a strategy and recommendations for making future investments in our state that are mindful of the future and how our weather and landscape may be changing. Many local communities across the state are having the same conversation and I am hopeful that by sharing ideas we can collectively take steps that will help Delaware adapt in a pragmatic and measured way.

Delaware’s public natural resources – our beaches, wetlands, parks, fish and wildlife areas and forests – are home to incredible plant and animal diversity and also offer wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities. We need to continue to balance the need for protection of these special places while also finding ways for the public to use them with minimal impacts so that we can promote healthy lifestyles and an appreciation of their unique natural features.

Q – Are there any opportunities or challenges you are excited about that will directly affect the Greater Milford Area ?

A – Milford has done an incredible job in embracing its historical past and the Mispillion River as part of the redevelopment of the downtown area. Today, the river serves as a natural centerpiece surrounded by the library, museum,  restaurants, galleries, unique shops and businesses. With DNREC’s assistance, Milford has constructed the river walk to provide walking, jogging and cycling opportunities for residents and visitors.  Many other towns, from Wilmington to Seaford, are creating similar spaces and integrating natural features into business and residential areas. We hope to continue to support these and similar efforts. The River also serves as a focus for the Delaware Bayshore as it meets the Delaware Bay near Slaughter Beach. The area is an internationally significant location for migrating shorebirds and horseshoe crab habitat and we continue our efforts to preserve this special place.

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