Four groups work to protect the coastal sussex environment

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

Eco-SuzanneThurman Our Content - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #114Caring 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.

Richard Clifton’s exquisite waterfowl paintings have earned him high honors

By Gwen Guerke  |  Photograph by Scott Nathan
From the April 2015 issue

RichardClifton Our Content - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #114Richard Clifton is living his dream.

It’s easy to see why. He resides on an isolated piece of farmland adjacent to the sublimely beautiful Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. And he long ago developed into an accomplished waterfowl artist, earning not just a living but widespread acclaim.

In fact, Clifton is the 2015 Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Artist of the Year, the pinnacle of achievement in his chosen field.

But he’s not basking in his success, because this former farmer has a higher goal each time he creates an acrylic-on-canvas image: “I want people to get lost in it. I want it to draw you in.” Though his works are realistic and highly detailed, Clifton also tries “to create a sense of mystery. I don’t want to spell everything out for the viewers.”

Remembering Rehoboth Bay and the boardwalk in the early 20th century

From an oral history by Anne Horn Ballard
From the April 2015 issue

Lookback-april Our Content - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #114If Daddy had the money, [to get to Rehoboth] we would go to Anna­polis and take the Annapolis-Matapeake ferry. But if Daddy didn’t feel as if he could afford that, we would go up to Wilmington and around and down. We would get to Rehoboth and we would say, “Isn’t it wonderful? We only had one flat tire on the way.” I’m guessing [it took] six to eight hours or something like that.

I remember a bathhouse [on the boardwalk]. In fact, I think a couple of times — I don’t know why I would have ever used it, but I think I did. I don’t know why we wouldn’t have gotten dressed in my grandmother’s house, because it was just a half a block from the ocean, but for some reason or another I do remember taking my clothes, hanging them up in the bathhouse, putting on one of those horrible itchy wool bathing suits and going swimming.