Four groups work to protect the coastal sussex environment

By Lynn R. Parks  |  Photograph by Kevin Fleming
From the April 2015 issue

Eco-SuzanneThurman Eco Heroes - Delaware Beach LifeCaring for the environment is a tough job. Suzanne Thurman, who helps to rescue stranded sea mammals and sea turtles through the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute, which she founded, and who promotes action to keep oceans healthy, says that her work can be overwhelming.

“This work is very important to me, but I just have to take things one day at a time,” she says.

John Doerfler agrees. The vice chairman for the Delaware chapter of Surfrider, which advocates for clean oceans and beaches, says, “It’s easy for people to get discouraged, and to feel that we are being taken hostage by bad decisions.”

And yet, the work continues. Environmentalists compile data and write reports. They send letters, call legislators and speak out at public meetings.

Says Thurman: “If we don’t at least try to make a difference, things will never change.”

What follows are profiles of four groups fighting for the health of the environment in coastal Sussex County. As might be expected, all of them are centered on water: on the ocean, on the creatures in the ocean and on the county’s three inland bays. And despite the hurdles they face, all of their leaders are looking forward to better days ahead.

“I still believe that there are things that we can do to make things better,” Thurman adds. “I could get discouraged every day. But it is our children who give me hope. They are so full of enthusiasm and willing to make changes. I really feel that they will make a difference.”

Ron Wuslich, president of the Inland Bays Foundation, says, “Am I hopeful? A resounding yes!”
 

The Inland Bays Foundation
Ron Wuslich, of South Bethany, helped launch the Inland Bays Foundation in 2010 in order to take a more aggressive approach to improving water quality in the bays.

Surfrider
John Doerfler, vice chairman of the Delaware chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, is active in a number of issues that affect surfers, as well as anyone who enjoys the ocean. These issues include beach replenishment, Rehoboth’s proposed outfall for wastewaster disposal, and the general health of the environment.
Local Surfrider activist Gregg Rosner in January received a “Wavemaker” award (for Chapter Leadership East) from the national Surfrider Foundation for his efforts in opposing Rehoboth’s plan to discharge wastewater into the ocean.

Center for the Inland Bays
Chris Bason, of Ocean View, directs the Center for the Inland Bays in its wide-ranging efforts to promote improvements in water quality, educate the public, conduct demonstration and restoration projects, and bring together various stakeholders from citizen, business and government sectors.

MERR
Suzanne Thurman, director of the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute, holds the shell of a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, one of the species that occasionally washes up on Delaware’s shoreline.

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