TITLE 7

Conservation

Public Lands, Parks and Memorials

CHAPTER 47. STATE PARKS

Subchapter I. General Provisions


(a) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control may:

(1) Select and acquire by gift, devise, bequest, purchase, and through the exercise of the power of eminent domain, such lands as are desirable to be utilized chiefly for recreation, and to develop and maintain such areas;

(2) Expend for such acquisition, development and maintenance, such funds as are appropriated for such purposes, or received as earnings from the operation of such areas, or received from any other source;

(3) Employ such administrative and technical assistance as is, in the opinion of the Department necessary in order to plan, develop and maintain the areas which it administers;

(4) Make and enforce regulations relating to the protection, care and use of the areas it administers;

(5)(A) Establish and collect such user charges, which shall approximate and reasonably reflect all costs necessary to defray the expenses of the Department for the use of the facilities and services it provides in areas it administers. The Department shall, in addition, establish and impose a schedule of fees for entrance to state parks and for surf fishing vehicles and snowmobiles on said lands, with the concurrence and approval of the General Assembly. The Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall establish the period and areas on which park fees and user charges shall be imposed. The Secretary shall annually prepare a schedule of park entrance and surf fishing vehicle and snowmobile fees pursuant to this section and submit the same as part of the Department's annual operating budget proposal. All of the fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited in the General Fund of this State and designated solely for park operations and maintenance; provided, however, that no fee shall be imposed on any recognized veteran's service organization for the use of any state park or portion thereof for purposes of patriotic or memorial services, provided that advance written notification of not less than 15 days is given to the agency and does not conflict with other previously scheduled activities within the park;

(B)(i) Delaware residents who are 62 years of age or older and who own a motor vehicle validly registered in Delaware may pay an annual fee of not less than 1/2 of the annual fee established for Delaware residents pursuant to paragraph (a)(5)(A) of this section for each such registered motor vehicle which shall permit such vehicle entrance to any state park or recreation area during the calendar year for which the fee was paid. Persons who are 62 years of age or older and who own a motor vehicle validly registered in another state may pay an annual fee of not less than 1/2 of the annual fee established for out-of-state registered vehicles pursuant to paragraph (a)(5)(A) of this section for each such registered motor vehicle which shall permit the vehicle entrance to any state park or recreation area during the calendar year for which the fee was paid. Each applicant under this paragraph shall furnish proof of age, vehicle ownership and vehicle registration at the time such application is made. Annual permits issued under this paragraph will be valid for any day excluding holidays. No annual permit issued under this paragraph will be honored on any day unless the owner of the vehicle for which such permit is issued is the operator of the vehicle at the time of entrance to the state park or recreation area to which admission is sought. All the fees collected under the authority of this section shall be deposited in the General Fund, and designated solely for park operations and maintenance;

(ii) A Delaware resident who is 65 years of age or older may pay a 1-time fee of $45, which will permit the resident to enter any state park or recreation area for the lifetime of the resident, so long as the resident is the operator of or a passenger in a Delaware-registered vehicle at the time of entrance to the state park or recreation area to which admission is sought. An applicant for a lifetime permit must furnish proof of age and Delaware residency at the time application for the permit is made. All fees collected under the authority of this paragraph must be deposited in the General Fund and designated solely for park operations and maintenance.

(C) Delaware residents who are disabled, and who hold a valid and current Gold Access Passport Card, as issued by the National Park Service of the United States Department of the Interior, shall be exempted from the annual or daily entrance fees required by this section;

(D) Any resident who has served honorably for 90 or more consecutive days on active duty in the armed forces of the United States, including service as member of the Delaware National Guard, in military actions in Southwest Asia associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom may, for the first 12 months following the date the resident was honorably discharged or removed from active status, receive a pass granting the resident free admission to any state park in this State without charge;

(E) Any resident, who does not qualify for free admission pursuant to paragraph (a)(5)(D) of this section, who has honorably served or is honorably serving in the armed forces of the United States, including service as a member of the Delaware National Guard, and who owns a motor vehicle validly registered in Delaware may pay an annual fee of 1/2 of the annual fee established for Delaware residents pursuant to paragraph (a)(5)(A) of this section for each such registered motor vehicle which shall permit such vehicle entrance to any state park or recreation area during the calendar year for which the fee was paid. Each applicant under this paragraph shall furnish proof of service in the armed forces of the United States, vehicle ownership and vehicle registration at the time such application is made. All the fees collected under the authority of this paragraph shall be designated solely for park operations and maintenance.

(F) A resident who is an active Delaware volunteer firefighter, an active Delaware volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT), or a life-member of a Delaware volunteer fire department is entitled to receive annually, without charge, a surf fishing vehicle permit. A firefighter, EMT, or life-member who volunteers in Delaware but lives out of state is entitled to receive annually, at the Delaware resident rate, a surf fishing vehicle permit.

(i) "Active Delaware volunteer firefighter" means a person who is a member of a Delaware volunteer fire department and who responds to at least 20% of the department's annual alarms and/or crew calls as a nonpaid firefighter.

(ii) "Active volunteer emergency medical technician" or "EMT" means a person who is a member of a Delaware volunteer fire department or a Delaware volunteer ambulance company and who responds to at least 20% of the department's or company's annual emergency medical service calls as a nonpaid EMT, EMT-C, or EMT-P, as described in § 9701(11), (12), and (13) respectively of Title 16.

(iii) "Life-member of a Delaware volunteer fire department" means a person who is a member of a Delaware volunteer fire department and who has been awarded life membership status by that department.

(iv) To qualify without charge for a surf fishing vehicle permit pursuant to this paragraph, the firefighter, EMT, or life-member must submit annually to the Department an original letter on official fire department or ambulance company letterhead, signed by the fire department's or ambulance company's president and authenticated by the president of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighter's Association. The letter must explain how the person qualifies for a surf fishing vehicle permit under this paragraph.

(v) One surf fishing vehicle permit may be issued annually to a vehicle registered to the qualifying active Delaware Volunteer Firefighter, active emergency medical technician (EMT), or life member in accordance with procedures established by the Department.

(6) Make on its own motion or in cooperation with other agencies of the State, studies of the recreational facilities now available in the State, and of the recreational needs of the State, and determine what areas not now available for public recreation should be acquired;

(7) Enter into agreements with proper persons or corporations for periods not to exceed 25 years for operation of services on the areas it administers;

(8) Employ and fix the salaries of such personnel as it deems proper for the enforcement of its rules and regulations. Enforcement personnel may arrest with a warrant for any violation of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control rules and regulations, or without a warrant for any such violation committed in their presence. Enforcement personnel, with respect to the enforcement of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control rules and regulations, shall have all the powers of investigation, detention and arrest conferred by law on peace officers or constables;

(9) Grant, with the written approval of the Cabinet Committee on State Planning Issues, easements, for either private or public purpose over or under any public lands which it administers, for the purpose of transmission lines, such as: Telephone and telegraph lines, electric power lines, gas pipelines, and water and sewage pipelines and appurtenances. The term of any such easement together with the amount of any fee charged therefor shall be determined by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control acting with approval of the Cabinet Committee on State Planning Issues, and any funds received for the grant of such easements shall be deposited by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control with the State Treasurer;

(10) Select and obtain, by lease or agreement with the owners thereof and upon such terms and conditions as the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, with the approval of the Cabinet Committee on State Planning Issues, shall determine, such lands as the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control deems appropriate and desirable for park and recreation use and purposes, and to improve, develop, operate and maintain such lands for such purposes. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control may only exercise the powers granted in this paragraph by lease or agreement entered into with the federal government or with a municipality, agency or political subdivision of this State; and

(11) Enter into an agreement with the Barcroft Company of Lewes, Delaware, for a period not to exceed 25 years, for the use of land presently leased to Barcroft, as well as an adjoining triangular-shaped property containing approximately .76 of an acre; provided, however, that the funds received from such agreement shall be appropriated to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to be used to rebuild and maintain, for the use of the public, a fishing pier located in the breakwater at Cape Henlopen State Park.

(b) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control may establish state parks on any or all portions of state lands in Sussex County bordering on the Atlantic Ocean which have been or may hereafter be acquired and may administer them directly.

(c) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall plan, develop and maintain all areas entrusted to its administration as to preserve in every reasonable degree the scenic, historic, scientific, prehistoric and wildlife values of such areas.

(d) All state parks and other areas acquired primarily for recreational use shall, from the date of their establishment as such, come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and shall be closed to hunting, except in areas designated by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for such purpose.

(e) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall establish an advance reservation system to allow disabled persons to reserve accessible campsites for the disabled at state parks.

41 Del. Laws, c. 259, § 2; 7 Del. C. 1953, c. 4703; 53 Del. Laws, c. 111; 56 Del. Laws, c. 86; 56 Del. Laws, c. 102; 56 Del. Laws, c. 407; 57 Del. Laws, c. 578; 57 Del. Laws, c. 734; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, § 124; 60 Del. Laws, c. 243, § 1; 61 Del. Laws, c. 299, § 1; 61 Del. Laws, c. 389, §§ 1-4; 62 Del. Laws, c. 1, § 1; 62 Del. Laws, c. 44, §§ 1, 2; 63 Del. Laws, c. 191, § 4(i); 66 Del. Laws, c. 138, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 86, §§ 1, 2; 69 Del. Laws, c. 85, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 260, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 381, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 290, § 1; 74 Del. Laws, c. 291, § 2; 78 Del. Laws, c. 266, § 13; 78 Del. Laws, c. 300, § 1; 78 Del. Laws, c. 362, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 30, § 1.;

(a) Whoever violates any rule or regulation promulgated by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control pursuant to this chapter shall be fined not less $50 nor more than $250 and costs for each offense, or imprisoned not more than 10 days, or both, except when such offenses are violations of subsection (g) of this section. For each subsequent like offense the person shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, or imprisoned not more than 30 days, or both. If the offense involves the failure to acquire a surf fishing vehicle permit or failure to pay an entrance fee required under this chapter, the violator shall be assessed the cost of the permit, or fee, in addition to such fines. In addition to such fines, costs or imprisonment, any person who is convicted of any offense involving damaging, destroying or removal of state park property shall be required to make restitution to the Department for replacement or restoration of such property. Furthermore, in lieu of, or in addition to the aforesaid penalties, the court may order violators convicted of any offense involving damaging, destroying or removal of state park property to perform work projects in state parks.

(b) This section shall not be construed as authorizing the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to change any penalty for violating any rule or regulation of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

(c) All rules and regulations of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control promulgated pursuant to this chapter shall have the effect of law and shall be published in at least 2 newspapers of general circulation in the territory to be affected, at least 30 days prior to the time the rule or regulation becomes effective, except in case of an emergency when the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall give such advance notice as it deems necessary or desirable.

(d) Justices of the peace shall severally throughout the State have jurisdiction of violations of the rules and regulations of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control promulgated pursuant to this chapter with the condition that any person arrested for such violation shall either be taken before the closest available justice of the peace in the county where such violation is alleged to have occurred or be provided a voluntary assessment form in accordance with § 1311 of this title.

(e) Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, an arresting officer may issue a summons to any person arrested for any violation delineated in this chapter to have said person appear at a subsequent date at the Justice of the Peace Court which is the nearest available Justice of the Peace Court to the place of the arrest, during the regularly scheduled hours of said Court. For the purpose of this section, the summons for later appearance shall be sufficient to grant jurisdiction over the offense to the said nearest available justice of the peace.

(f) For the purpose of this section, a justice of the peace is available when he or she is at his or her office or court.

(g) Notwithstanding subsection (d) of this section, a summons in the appropriate form to be adopted by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control may be attached to an unattended vehicle found in violation of any rule or regulation for parking in state parks by an authorized officer.

(1) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control may adopt a schedule of civil penalties, between a minimum of $10 and a maximum of $25, for all violations delineated by its rules and regulations for parking in state parks. No court costs or other administrative fee shall be assessed if a civil penalty is paid by voluntary assessment.

(2) Any violation of this subsection shall be subject to a civil penalty only. Such violations shall not be classified as a criminal offense and shall not qualify as a prior conviction for purposes of § 4218(c)(1)f. of Title 11, whether or not such violation occurred prior to the enactment of this paragraph.

(3)a. Payment by voluntary assessment. — An owner or operator shall pay the amount on the summons to the voluntary assessment center listed on the summons, which center may be either a voluntary assessment center established by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control or the Justice of the Peace Court Voluntary Assessment Center. In lieu of payment, an owner or operator may notify the applicable voluntary assessment center, within the time period specified on the summons, that the owner or operator requests a hearing in the Justice of the Peace Court. No court costs or other administrative fee shall be assessed if a civil penalty is paid by voluntary assessment. The penalty assessment pursuant to the Delaware Victim Compensation law, Chapter 90 of Title 11, shall not be assessed on civil penalties pursuant to this subsection. Moneys received either through voluntary assessment or after a hearing shall be disbursed in accordance with § 1307 of this title.

b. Presumptions.

1. If any vehicle found to be in violation of this subsection is unattended at the time the violation is discovered and the identity of the operator is not otherwise apparent, the person in whose name such vehicle is registered as the owner shall be held responsible for such violation, unless the owner can furnish evidence that the vehicle was, at the time of the violation, in the care, custody or control of another person. Such presumption shall be rebutted if the owner:

A. Prior to the due date furnishes to the voluntary assessment center either: I. An affidavit stating that the owner was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation and provides the name and address of the person, or company who leased, rented or otherwise had the care, custody or control of the vehicle; or II. Attaches a certified copy of a police report showing that the vehicle or license plate or plates thereof had been reported to the police as stolen prior to the time of the alleged violation; or

B. Provides proof in court that the owner was not the operator of the vehicle at the time of the alleged violation.

2. A summons may be issued by the prosecuting agency to a person identified by affidavit or evidence in Court as the actual operator of the vehicle shown to have violated this subsection. There shall be a presumption that the person so identified was the driver. The presumption may be rebutted as described in this subsection.

c. Procedure for contesting.

1. A request for a hearing must be made no later than the due date indicated on the summons, which date shall not be sooner than 20 days from the date the summons was issued.

2. The voluntary assessment center shall notify the Justice of the Peace Court when a hearing is requested. Such notification shall be in accordance with policies and procedures developed by the Justice of the Peace Court.

d. Failure to pay or contest the violation. — If the owner or operator:

1. Fails to respond to the summons on or before the due date in any of the manners permitted by this section, or

2. Requests a hearing and fails to appear,

the Court may, upon motion, enter a default judgment against such owner or operator. However, when the default judgment is sought for a failure to respond to the summons, no default judgment shall be entered until notice by first class mail is sent by the Court to such owner or operator providing the owner or operator with 10 days to pay the civil penalty to the Court or request a hearing to contest the charge. The applicable city, county or State agency may seek execution on any judgment entered by the Court.

In addition, the voluntary assessment center or Court may forward to the Division of Motor Vehicles the name and address of any owner or operator who fails to respond to the summons in a timely manner, who requests a hearing and fails to appear, or who is found responsible and fails to pay in accordance with the order of the Court. The Division of Motor Vehicles may refuse to register and/or deny the renewal of the registration of any of the vehicles of such owner or operator.

(4) After payment of a civil penalty pursuant to this subsection is received by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control or a Justice of the Peace Court, the Department or the Court shall mail a receipt indicating the payment of such civil penalty if the person paying such civil penalty makes a written request for a receipt and encloses a self-addressed envelope with proper postage affixed thereon.

(5) Any violation of this subsection shall be subject to a civil penalty only. Such violation shall not be classified as a criminal offense and shall not qualify as a prior conviction for purposes of § 4218(c)(1)f. of Title 11, whether or not such violation occurred prior to the enactment of this paragraph.

41 Del. Laws, c. 259, § 3; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4705; 56 Del. Laws, c. 85; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, § 125; 62 Del. Laws, c. 213, § 2; 63 Del. Laws, c. 304, §§ 1-4; 68 Del. Laws, c. 182; 69 Del. Laws, c. 394, §§ 1-4; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 405, §§ 1-6; 76 Del. Laws, c. 403, § 1.;

(a) Pea Patch Island is declared to be a state park under the name of Fort Delaware State Park.

(b) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall repair Fort Delaware and shall thereafter maintain the same in a condition fit for visitation by the general public, and shall arrange and provide transportation facilities for such purpose.

(c) The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall establish and collect reasonable fees and charges for transportation to the said park and visitation therein; all such fees and charges received by the said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and any other funds received by it, except state appropriations, for the support of Fort Delaware State Park shall be paid to the State Treasurer, who shall retain the same in a special fund, to be expended upon proper vouchers of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control only for the purpose of carrying out this section.

(d) The officers of the Fort Delaware Society are named as an advisory board to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to make such recommendations for the care and maintenance of Fort Delaware State Park as they see fit.

48 Del. Laws, c. 373, §§ 1, 2; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4723; 50 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, § 127.;

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control shall supervise and maintain the area known as the Trap Pond Project, located in Sussex County, consisting of approximately 1,000 acres, as a state park.

48 Del. Laws, c. 360, §§ 1, 2; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4724; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, § 128.;

(a) The Department may authorize as many qualified persons as licensing agents as it deems necessary to effectuate the efficient distribution of state park permits.

(b) Licensing agents may add a service charge to the required fee for a state park permit, provided the service charge does not exceed $0.50 cents for an annual permit or daily permit book or $0.75 cents for a surf fishing vehicle permit. Such service charges, if imposed, shall be posted by the licensing agent and shall be clearly visible to prospective purchasers.

(c) The Secretary may adopt, amend, modify or repeal rules and regulations to effectuate the policy and purpose of this section.

71 Del. Laws, c. 443, § 5.;

Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, no state park, or any part thereof, or other area acquired primarily for recreational use, shall be rezoned, neither shall there be a change in the use of any such lands requiring a variance or subdivision approval, except upon 45 days prior notice to all elected members of the General Assembly in whose district such lands, or any part thereof, lie.

72 Del. Laws, c. 156, § 1.;