(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:


The United States Geological Survey (“USGS”) National Wetlands Research Center uses volunteer data to study production levels in swamps to better understand how swamps can store atmospheric carbon. North American Baldcypress Swamp Volunteer Network, U.S. Geological Surv., (last updated Sept. 28, 2015). In Delaware, USGS has focused on the Murderkill and St. Jones Rivers. Locations, North American Baldcypress Swamp Volunteer Network, U.S. Geological Surv., (last updated Sept. 28, 2015).


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sponsors the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (“DNREC”) Delaware Shorebird Project, through which a team of scientists, local volunteers, researchers, and birders research the populations and health of migratory shorebirds to protect and manage their local habitats. Delaware Shorebird Project, Division of Fish & Wildlife, Del. Dep’t of Nat. Resources & Envtl. Control, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). 


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and USGS sponsor the Delaware Bay Horseshoe Crab Survey, which gathers volunteers to use beach surveys to collect data on Horseshoe crab populations. See History, Del. Bay Horseshoe Crab Surv., (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). The data inform Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission protocols for commercial fishing. See id.

State Project(s):



Through its Surface Quality Monitoring Program, DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship collects data on the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of Delaware’s surface waters. Water Quality Monitoring, Division of Watershed Stewardship, Del. Dep’t of Nat. Resources & Envtl. Control, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


The Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife manages the Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program, which uses volunteers to record Osprey nests and platforms to inform conservation efforts. Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program, Division of Fish & Wildlife, Del. Dep’t of Nat. Resources & Envtl. Control, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). 

Collection of Information:

Scientific Collection Permit:

“No person or persons shall take, capture, have in possession or transport protected wildlife, finfish, shellfish, or their nests or eggs for scientific, education or propagating purposes except as authorized by a permit from the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife in accordance with existing laws and regulations.” 7 Del. Code § 555(a).

Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No. A person is guilty of third degree trespass only if that person “knowingly enters or remains unlawfully upon real property.” 11 Del. Code § 821 (emphasis added). “A person who, regardless of intent, enters or remains upon premises which appear at the time to be open to the public does so with license and privilege unless the person defies a lawful order not to enter or remain, personally communicated by the owner of the premises or another authorized person.” Id. § 829(d).

Trespass on Fenced Property:

A person is guilty of second degree trespass if that person “knowingly enters…upon real property which is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner manifestly designed to exclude intruders.” 11 Del. Code § 822.

Trespass on Agricultural Property:

An individual is guilty of first degree trespass if that person “knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building used to shelter, house, milk, raise, feed, breed, study or exhibit animals.” 11 Del. Code § 823.

Drone Laws:

Interference with First Responders:

“[N]o person shall knowingly operate, direct, or program an unmanned aircraft system to fly… [o]ver any incident where first responders are actively engaged in response[.]” 11 Del. Code § 1334(b)(3).


The statutory prohibitions of section 1334 do not apply to unmanned aircraft systems operated by “an institution of higher education for educational purposes in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations” or “used for a commercial or other purpose if the operator is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration.” 11 Del. Code § 1334(c)(3)-(4).


“Only the State may enact a law or take any other action to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the testing or operation of an unmanned aircraft systems in the State.” 11 Del. Code § 1334(e).

State Parks:

“Flying of radio-controlled model aircraft, including drones, [] shall not be permitted in areas administered by the Division except in areas set aside and designated for such purposes.” 7 Del. Admin. Code 9201-13.2. DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation prohibits the use of drones: (1) in or around unprotected persons; (2) in parking lots; (3) near any protected wildlife species, in active wildlife nesting or breeding areas or harassing wildlife; (4) Nature Preserves; (4) where the activity would not be appropriate within the overall character of a park; and (5) within 100’ of vulnerable property. See Drones in Delaware State Parks, Del. State Parks, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). To otherwise fly a drone in a state park requires a permit. See id.

Other Provisions:

See infra “Critical Infrastructure Laws.”

Critical Infrastructure Laws:

Drone Use Over Critical Infrastructure:

Except as otherwise provided in Delaware’s law regarding the unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system, “no person shall knowingly operate, direct, or program an unmanned aircraft system to fly . . . over any critical infrastructure.” 11 Del. Code § 1334(b)(2). “‘Critical infrastructure’ means petroleum refineries, petroleum storage facilities, chemical storage facilities, chemical manufacturing facilities, fuel storage facilities, electric substations, power plants, electric generation facilities, military facilities, commercial port and harbor facilities, rail yard facilities, drinking water treatment or storage facilities, correctional facilities, government buildings, and public safety buildings or facilities.” Id. § 1334(a)(1).


See supra “Drone Laws.”

Stalking Laws: 

Criminal Law:

Stalking entails “knowingly engag[ing] in a course of conduct directed at a specific person” that would cause a reasonable person to either “[f]ear physical injury to himself or herself or that of another person” or “[s]uffer other significant mental anguish or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.” 11 Del. Code § 1312(a).

Use of Information:

Although incomplete, our research has not found any provisions relating to the use of information collected by citizens in enforcement or administrative/legislative actions.






Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires certification that “the allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery.”  Del. Super. Ct. Civ. R. 11(b)(3).

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“To satisfy the requirement of authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.” Del. R. Evid. 901(a). 

Expert Testimony:

Daubert standard. See M.G. Bancorporation, Inc. v. Le Beau, 737 A.2d 513, 521-22 (Del. 1999). The trial judge must ensure that all expert testimony “is not only relevant, but reliable,” by considering “testing, peer review, error rates, and ‘acceptability’ in the relevant scientific community.” Rodriguez v. State, 30 A.3d 764, 769 (Del. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993); M.G. Bancorporation, 737 A.2d at 521).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.