If you have driven along Route 1A in Rye, you may have noticed the brush removal along the bike path and south of the Odiorne homestead in Odiorne Point State Park (OPSP). This work, while noticeable roadside only recently, has been part of a long-term project led by the Rockingham County Conservation District (RCCD). We asked RCCD’s Senior Project Manager Tracy Degnan to fill us in on the habitat restoration project in OPSP.
Tracy Degnan | Senior Project Manager, Rockingham County Conservation District
The Rockingham County Conservation District started working on habitat restoration efforts at Odiorne Point State Park over a decade ago. The District initiated the project in 2009, implementing an invasive species management plan (ISMP) completed for each of the different habitats. Restoration began at the southern end of the park at a small over-wash marsh. The District hand-cut over a 1/2 acre of Common Reed (Phragmites australis), a highly invasive plant in the heat of August in 2010. RCCD composted this biomass off site, and then treated the re-growth using a Low Volume Foliar (LVF) technique in 2011. Several additional years were needed for spot treating sprigs of Common Reed and planting native species. Currently, the over-wash marsh is abound with native grasses, with no Common Reed in sight! We are very pleased with the success of this project.
This past year, the District focused on approximately 9 acres of Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), one of the most impenetrable invasive plants found in this area of Odiorne Point State Park, completely engulfing and overrunning native trees. This shrubland habitat also included the historic McKim-Gage site, so careful and varied Integrated Pest Management (IPM ) practices were employed. Even one year later, it is clear to see the vegetative difference in this once heavily invaded habitat.
Although the District was unable to engage volunteer groups that typically assist with work in 2020 due to the pandemic, we were able to install another 1,300 native plant seedlings in this area, as well as restore habitat on the west side of Route 1A. We also worked to promote the rapid regeneration of native species to outcompete invasive seedlings.
Future planting efforts include tree species such as shagbark hickory, red and sugar maple to promote roosting sites for bats, and shrub species like Virginia rose, blackberry, northern bayberry and shadbush to promote diverse insect and bird populations. Additional native plantings were completed this past summer with invaluable volunteer assistance from Seacoast Science Center.
As the District’s work moves toward Frost Point and the Little Harbor shoreline, additional planning and restoration proposals will be introduced. Special thanks goes to the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources as well as the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods, IPM program, the NH State Conservation Committee, and the NH Coastal Program for their continued partnership and long-term support for this ongoing project.
If you are interested in volunteering to assist with the habitat restoration project in Odiorne Point State Park, please contact Seacoast Science Center Volunteer Coordinator Laura Bahl at [email protected]. For questions on habitat restoration in OPSP, please contact Tracy Degnan, Senior Project Manager, Rockingham County Conservation District at [email protected].