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Carl M. Freeman Companies held their 70th Anniversary Summer Kickoff Party June 24 at Bayside Fenwick Island to benefit the James Farm Ecological Preserve. By the end of the evening, a total of $3,600 was raised – and then matched – by the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, bringing the total funds raised to more than $7,200!

The James Farm Ecological Preserve is a 150-acre area on the Indian River Bay that consists of freshwater forested wetlands, a coastal plain pond, meadow, salt marsh, tidal flats, successional forest and upland forests. It is owned by Sussex County and has been managed by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays since 1998.

Each year, over 10,000 visits are made to the preserve where locals and tourists enjoy the trails, beach and bay views, wildlife viewing and community events including the center’s annual Gardening for the Bays Native Plant Sale. In addition, the center provides instruction to nearly 1,400 students each school year as part of the James Farm Middle School Education Program, a partnership with Indian River School District.

The money donated is earmarked to help complete a master plan, which was developed in 2014 with Oasis Design Group. This update plan addresses the physical restoration, improvement and management of the property, and takes into account emerging issues such as sea level rise.

It also addresses the challenges of increased visitation to the preserve while preserving the land for environmental education and recreation as intended by Mary Lighthipe, the last heir of the James family and donor of the property. Implementation of the plan is being supported by a generous grant from Sussex County Council.