DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Delaware Forest Service
402 State Forest Regulations
This Order relates to the proposed regulation amendments ("Amendments") to 3 DE Admin. Code 402: State Forests. Specifically, the State Forest Service proposes to amend its State Forest Regulations adopted in accordance with Title 3, Sections 1008 and 1011. The purpose of the proposed regulations is to amend Sections 7.0 Camping Rules and Regulations, 8.0 Hunting Rules and Regulations, and 9.0 Forest Use Permits to reflect current practices and aid law enforcement agencies with enforceable regulations. Existing regulations are outdated and are not applicable to all areas that are owned and operated by the State Forest Service, which has made it difficult for staff to adequately enforce regulations. The State Forest Service has recently undergone an overhaul for handling camping on Delaware Forest Service grounds. Now, the State Forest Service will charge a minimal fee for camping, which will allow for better maintenance of campgrounds for continued use for visitors to the state forest campsites.
The proposed regulations were published in the November 1, 2020 edition of the Delaware Register of Regulations. Copies were also on file in the office of the State Forest Service, Delaware Department of Agriculture, 2320 South DuPont Highway Dover, DE and were available for inspection during regular office hours. Copies were also published online at the Delaware Register of Regulations website: http://regulations.delaware.gov/services/current_issue.shtml.
Summary of the Evidence and Information Submitted
The Department received no written comments and further, no public hearing was held.
Findings of Fact and Conclusions
The public was given notice and an opportunity to provide the State Forest Service with comments in writing and by testimony on the proposed amendments, or submit written suggestions, data, briefs or other materials to the proposed regulations. There were no public comments provided to the State Forest Service.
In accordance with the state public notice requirements of Title 29, Chapter 101 of the Delaware Code and pursuant to Title 3 of the Delaware Code, Section 1008 and 1011 (3 Del.C. §1008 & 1011), the Department has the statutory authority to promulgate rules and regulations.
Having received no public comments, the Department finds no reason to amend the regulations as proposed.
Decision and Effective Date
The Department hereby adopts the changes to regulations as proposed, to be effective 10 days following publication of this Order in the Delaware Register of Regulations. The new regulations are attached hereto as Exhibit A.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 16th day of December 2020.
Michael T. Scuse, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture
402 State Forest Regulations
These regulations are promulgated pursuant to the delegation of authority to the Department of Agriculture by the General Assembly found in 3 Del.C. Sections 1008 and 1011.
The State Forests of Delaware are open to members of the public for their enjoyment. Most legal forms of non-motorized recreation are permitted. The following regulations were developed to ensure that these publicly owned lands are conserved, protected, and maintained for the benefit of all.
3.1 No regulation herein shall be interpreted or construed in such a manner as to prevent or delay authorized personnel of the Department or other state, county, or municipal agencies from completing official duties or emergency response.
3.2 In special circumstances, events, or emergencies, the Secretary or Forestry Administrator may, when it is deemed to be in the public interest, waive a specific regulation or fee.
3.3 Failure to enforce a specific regulation at a particular instance or instances shall not affect the validity of any other regulation or affect the validity of such regulation at any other time.
4.1 “Department” is the Delaware Department of Agriculture
4.2 “DFS” is the Delaware Forest Service
4.3 “DNREC” is the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
4.4 “Secretary” is the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Agriculture
4.5 “State Business Hours” are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, except for state holidays.
5.1 In order to promote the safety and welfare of State Forest visitors and protect and manage property in the State Forests, the Secretary and Forestry Administrator shall have the authority to develop reasonable policies for State Forests that are not in conflict with 3 Del.C. Ch. 10 and these regulations. These policies must be approved by the Secretary and posted in a conspicuous location in the State Forest prior to their becoming effective. Copies of all policies shall also be maintained in the State Forest office.
5.2 Violation of any State Forest policy shall be grounds for eviction from the State Forest and the denial, revocation, or suspension of any permit issued or privilege granted by the Department.
5.3 The Department shall have the authority to enforce safety rules and/or and policies developed in accordance with subsection 5.1 of these Regulations for the protection of visitors and property.
5.4 State Forests are open to lawful non-motorized recreational uses that do not violate any of the rules and regulations contained herein.
5.5 Unless otherwise indicated, State Forest access roads are closed to vehicular travel. It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motorized vehicle upon any lands of the DFS except on established roads or as otherwise authorized by the Forest Administrator. Where vehicular traffic is permitted, the speed limit is twenty (20) miles per hour unless otherwise posted. Vehicular traffic on tax ditch rights of way is prohibited except for maintenance by authorized personnel and for law enforcement purposes. Non-pedestrian traffic (horseback riding and mountain biking) is restricted to access roads and trails unless otherwise noted. None registered vehicles and all-terrain vehicles are prohibited in all areas except those used by DFS employees or law enforcement in the application of their lawful duties. It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motorized vehicle upon any lands administered by the DFS, unless said vehicle is licensed for use upon public highways and roadways or the driver or operator of said vehicle has been issued a permit from the DFS.
5.6 Boundaries of State Forests are clearly marked with metal signs and yellow paint. Visitors crossing onto private property are subject to trespass laws governed by Delaware Code.
5.7 No living trees, shrubs, or other vegetation may be cut, felled, uprooted, removed, or otherwise injured or destroyed, unless written permission has first been obtained from the forest officer in charge.
5.8 No living animals shall be harassed, injured, destroyed, or collected and removed from State Forest lands unless written permission has first been obtained from the forest officer in charge. The only exception is lawful hunting as specified in the Division of Fish and Wildlife adopted regulations outlined in the annual Hunting and Trapping Guide.
5.9 Fires are prohibited for any purpose on State Forest lands other than in designated areas unless written permission is obtained in advance from the forest officer in charge. All fires must be under the direct supervision of a competent adult. It shall be unlawful to leave any fires that have not been thoroughly extinguished.
5.10 The dumping or depositing of rubbish, trash, paint, household items, or other debris, or any other materials and activities that could result in the depositing of such materials, such as paintball and geo-caching, are also prohibited.
5.11 The placement of advertisement signs on State Forest property is prohibited.
5.12 It shall be unlawful to litter on State Forest lands.
5.13 Writing upon, mutilating, carving, and otherwise defacing trees, buildings, structures, signs, and official notices is prohibited.
5.14 With the exception of animals permitted under lawful hunting regulations, all animals must be under the continuous control of the owner(s) unless otherwise authorized in writing by the Forestry Administrator. All dogs must be leashed, unless covered by the exception above. State Forest visitors are responsible for the conduct and any damages, either personal or property, caused by their animals.
5.15 It shall be unlawful to train dogs on DFS property unless prior permission is authorized by the State Forest office.
5.16 Entry to State Forest lands is prohibited from sunset to sunrise, except for lawful hunting, permitted camping, permitted Redden Lodge use, or as otherwise permitted in writing by the DFS.
5.17 Fishing on State Forest lands is limited to catch and release only. A state fishing license is required to fish on State Forest lands.
5.18 Visitors shall park in designated areas only and within those designated areas. It shall be unlawful for any person to park any vehicle on lands administered by the DFS in such a manner as to obstruct the use of State Forest access roads, gates, or trails. Any vehicle parked in such a manner shall be subject to removal and the owner of said vehicle shall pay for all costs involved in such removal.
5.19 Alcoholic beverages are prohibited on State Forest lands except within the Redden Lodge, if and only if, authorized in writing by the DFS.
5.20 The use of drones (“Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” or “UAV”, or “Remotely Piloted Aerial System” or “RPAS”) is prohibited on State Forest lands unless authorized in writing by the DFS.
It shall be unlawful to make use of the Lodge facility in any manner other than outlined in the Redden state Forest Lodge Lease Agreement.
7.1 Camping is free-of-charge, year round, but permitted, and restricted to map-designated campsites only. A forest use permit is required for all camping on State Forest lands. Permits are available at State Forest offices during state business hours or from information boxes located at each State Forest office. Completed permits must be submitted during office hours to ensure campsite availability. There is a $25.00 per night charge for all campsite registration. Camping permits and registration can be found at agriculture.delaware.gov and by contacting the State Forest offices.
7.2 Campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis and reservations are required. Reservations are required prior to the arrival date.
7.3 Campsites are of a primitive type, and are to be used ONLY for tent, van or pickup campers. Travel tent camping. Van, pickup campers, travel trailers and /or self-propelled motor homes are excluded due to access and parking limitations, unless otherwise noted by a State Forest employee.
7.4 There are a limited number of campsites, each is large enough to accommodate large families that are equipped with tables, fire pits, and charcoal grills. These are equipped with tables, fire pits, charcoal grills and a trash barrel. Firewood can be purchased for a $5.00 fee onsite and no outside firewood is permitted. Campsites are limited to a maximum number of ten (10) people per site, with a maximum stay of three nights per week. six (6) people per site, with two (2) vehicles per site, overflow parking is provided nearby the parking areas. Camper(s) A camper or campers must remove their trash upon vacating their campsite. campsite and drop it off at the designated dumpster located on the camping map. Failure to adhere to these regulations will result in the camper’s removal and loss of security deposit.
7.5 Camping is at your own risk. State Forests are a public use area and there is no after-hours, nighttime or weekend security. Law enforcement is provided by the Delaware State Police and DNREC the Department of Natural Resources Police should the need arise.
7.6 State forests Forests are “multiple-use facilities”, which means other activities will continue while you camp. These activities include: hunting, picnicking, hiking, nature study, horseback riding, firewood cutting (by permit only), and timber harvesting. The DFS reserves the right to limit or deny permits during times of conflicting use.
7.7 Firewood for camp use is available at the campsites for purchase onsite; please refer to the camping map for its location. If more firewood is needed, it may be gathered locally from dead and downed trees. Standing trees or shrubs shall not be cut. Using firewood located at outside of the designated area of the office complex is prohibited. Campfires shall be contained within established fire rings only.
7.8 Campsites are to be left clean and all fires are to be extinguished before departing from the area.
8.1 State Forests are year-round multiple use areas. Hunters share the use of State Forest lands with other public users such as hikers, campers, horseback riders, firewood cutters, and loggers.
8.2 No special permits are required to hunt on State Forest lands, except as specified in the DNREC, Division of Fish and Wildlife Hunting and Trapping Guide or if the hunting tract is designated for a lottery permit only. Properly licensed hunters may hunt during any open season except on areas otherwise designated, such as those marked with Wildlife Sanctuary, NO HUNTING, or Safety Zone signs or areas that are outlined within the Hunting and Trapping Guide that state the area will be closed.
8.3 No permanent deer stands, platforms, ladders, or blinds may be constructed. No screw-in tree steps, spikes, screws, or nails are allowed.
8.4 Deer drives by any person or persons are not permitted on any State Forest land at any time.
8.5 Small game hunting is closed on State Forest lands during firearm deer seasons.
8.6 The DFS reserves the right to close specific State Forest tracts to hunting during specific hunting seasons. It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt on lands administered by the DFS, except as permitted by the Forestry Administrator in writing and specified on current State Forest area maps distributed by the DFS.
8.7 Trapping rights may be leased for State Forest lands. No other trapping is permitted on State Forest lands.
8.8 Target shooting is prohibited. Firearms are allowed for legal hunting and are otherwise prohibited within designated safe areas on State Forest lands, except as set forth below.
8.8.1 Designated areas shall include State Forest Offices offices, education centers, and shall be identified by appropriate signage.
8.8.2 Active duty and qualified retired law enforcement officers may possess firearms within areas administered by the Department, including designated areas.
8.8.3 Delaware residents holding an active current permit to carry a concealed deadly weapon may carry a firearm within areas administered by the Department, including designated areas.
8.8.4 Firearms may be carried within areas administered by the Department, outside of designated areas, by any person not prohibited by 11 Del.C. §1448.
8.8.5 Law enforcement officers may limit the discharge of firearms and the use of other weapons within areas administered by the Department, in order to protect public safety and preserve the peace.
8.9 Waterfowl hunting is not permitted on State Forest land or waters. Waterfowl hunting is permitted within designated areas only on State Forest land and/or waters. DFS reserves the right to open and close specific State Forest tracts for waterfowl hunting. It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt on lands administered by the DFS, except as permitted by the Forestry Administrator in writing and specified on current State Forest area waterfowl maps distributed annually by the DFS.
8.10 Squirrel hunting is not allowed with a rifle or muzzleloading rifle. Squirrel hunting with a shotgun is permitted.
8.11 The following hunting restrictions apply to those tracts of State Forest lands as specified in the DNREC, Division of Fish and Wildlife Hunting and Trapping Guide. Maps delineating these areas are available at State Forest offices.
8.11.1 All deer hunting is limited to numbered stands. Deer Hunting is allowed on all State Forest tracts unless otherwise noted on State Forest maps, within the Hunting and Trapping Guide and on signs posted on State Forest property.
8.11.2 For shotgun season stands will be chosen in a pre-season lottery. To apply for a stand during the shotgun season fill out the application in the Delaware Hunting and Trapping Guide. For leftover stands there will be a daily lottery held at the local State Forest office, 1 and 1/2 hours before legal hunting time. For shotgun season tracts that have deer stands available to hunt, a daily lottery shall be held at the discretion of the State Forest office. Lottery times will be 1 and ½ hours before legal shooting times. Please refer to the Hunting and Trapping Guide and State Forest guidance for lottery dates and times.
8.11.3 For Muzzleloader season there will be a daily lottery held at the local State Forest office, 1 and 1/2 hours before legal hunting time. For muzzleloader season tracts that have deer stands available to hunt, a daily lottery shall be held at the discretion of the State Forest office. Lottery times will be 1 and ½ hours before legal shooting times. Please refer to the Hunting and Trapping Guide and State Forest guidance for lottery dates and times.
8.11.4 All hunters on these tracts, during shotgun and muzzleloader season, must only hunt from their designated stand, as walk around hunting is not permitted.
8.11.5 During Archery season bowhunters must be within 50 yards of their designated stand.
8.11.6 Stands will be available during Archery season on a first-come, first-served basis.
8.11.7 No more than one hunter may hunt from a stand at any one time.
9.1 Forest use permits on State Forests are issued on a first-come, first-served basis and are required for camping, firewood cutting, lodge rental (Redden State Forest), organized special events, and pavilion reservation. Facility users are required to submit a completed Forest Use Permit during state business hours. Facilities are to be reserved in advance. Facility users (camping/lodge-pavilion rentals) are required to book their reservations in advance. Reservations links can be found at agriculture.delaware.gov.
9.2 Firewood permits are required to harvest firewood on State Forest lands and are issued at the discretion of the State Forest staff. When available, these permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a fee of $100 for firewood permits, which allows the holder to cut for three days within areas designated and posted by State Forest staff. No trees are to be felled; only downed wood may be cut. Wood is not for resale.
10.1 The violation of, or the refusal to obey, any law, these regulations, State Forest policies or the terms or conditions of any permit issued or privilege granted by the Department shall be grounds for the suspension or revocation of any permit issued or privilege granted by the Department, the removal or eviction from State Forest lands and/or the denial of future entry to, or the denial of future permits or privileges within State Forests. Any and all applicable permit fees shall be forfeited to, and retained by, the Department. Any such suspension, revocation, removal, eviction or the denial of entry, permit or privilege shall not preclude the prosecution of any person for violation of any law or these regulations.
10.2 Whoever violates any of the foregoing regulations shall be deemed to have committed an unclassified misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $25 nor more than $250 and be required to pay all applicable court costs. For each subsequent violation, within three years of a previous conviction, the violator shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $500 and be required to pay all applicable court costs. In addition to fines and court costs, State Forest Service may request the court to order restitution in an amount determined by it for the destruction or removal of property to those convicted of violating these regulations.
10.3 Justices of the Peace throughout the State shall have jurisdiction over alleged violations of these State Forest Regulations; however, any violator shall, upon arrest, be taken to the nearest available Justice of the Peace in the county where such violation is alleged to have occurred, or in lieu thereof, be provided with an assessment form for the voluntary payment of fines.
10.4 Notwithstanding the immediate preceding subsection, a duly authorized peace officer making an arrest for a violation of these regulations may issue a summons requiring the violator to appear in person at a subsequent date at the Justice of the Peace Court nearest to the place of arrest and during the regularly scheduled hours of the Court.