Coastal Habitat Restoration

SSC volunteers and volunteer service groups have been assisting with the Rockingham County Conservation District’s Habitat Restoration project in Odiorne Point State Park since it was initiated in 2009.

During the past decade, the Division of Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Rockingham County Conservation District (RCCD) have invested over $600,000 dollars (operating and grant funds) and over 10,000 volunteer hours to restore the native coastal habitats found at Odiorne Point State Park, which include some of the rarest ecosystems in the State. 

Following the Odiorne Point State Park Invasive Plant Management Plan (the Plan) (FB, 2010), the goal is to restore native plant communities through the control of invasive plant species infestations which will benefit native plant species, wildlife, and improve aesthetic and recreational opportunities and public safety in the park. When the Plan was created, at least 18 of 26 prohibited species on the state invasive plant list and 230 acres of the 330-acre park were heavily invaded by invasive plants. 

Species with the greatest threat to freshwater and brackish or coastal environments include glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and common reed (Phragmities). These two plants are known to spread rapidly, forming monocultures that outcompete native wetland species in relatively short time spans. The major threats to our coastal forested communities include Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), glossy buckthorn, and bush honeysuckles (Lonciera spp.) All these plants can be found around the Frost Point area, and the western sections of the park.

During 2022, Rockingham County Conservation District (the District), with the help of Seacoast Science Center volunteers and others, planted over 1,000 native plants in 4+/- acres to facilitate the re-establishment of native coastal shrub and forested habitats. Native species planted include Northern bayberry, black cherry, Eastern red cedar, beach plum, Virginia rose, shagbark hickory, and shadbush. An additional 1000 native plants specifically chosen for pollinator habitat enhancement were planted within a two-acre coastal shrubland located along the bike path and Route 1A. For the past two years the District has also been working to collect, grow, and plant common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seedlings within this developing pollinator habitat in an effort to increase the milkweed population which is vital for the migrating North American monarch butterfly (Danaus pleippus).

If you visit the park you will see that the majority of our 2022 plantings were supplemented with biodegradable covers and bamboo stakes for protection against wildlife browse which has been an ongoing challenge for native plantings. These covers along with flagging will also help to facilitate future volunteer planting and watering efforts. This year, approximately 900 volunteer hours were provided to complete active restoration efforts to improve these coastal habitats, which significantly enhances our collective habitat restoration efforts. Partner collaboration and significant volunteer assistance—the majority comes from the Seacoast Science Center—really makes this coastal habitat restoration project at Odiorne a successful model.

In December 2022, the District mowed another 6+/- acres at Odiorne Point State Park that had been completely overtaken by invasive plant species, particularly Oriental bittersweet. Combating this invasive plant species as well as others over time, allows us to see the dramatic effects these species had on the native vegetation. Although mechanical equipment was used, native trees and shrubs, and even snags were saved to the greatest extent possible. Areas in the park that were once a monoculture of Oriental bittersweet are slowly transitioning to habitats with a more diverse native species composition.

The District has been restoring habitats with its partners and hundreds of volunteers at Odiorne Point State Park since 2009. This phase of restoration was funded in part by NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act in conjunction with the NH Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program, the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Markets and Foods Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program and the New Hampshire State Conservation Committee through the sale of Conservation License Plates.

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 l.bahl@sscnh.org. For questions on habitat restoration in OPSP, please contact Tracy Degnan, Senior Project Manager, Rockingham County Conservation District at tracy@rockinghamccd.org.

 

Seacoast Science Center will be CLOSED today: Friday, April 5, 2024. Our utilities are currently down and need to get repaired before we are able to open for visitors. Thank you for your understanding. 

CLOSED today.

Seacoast Science Center is closed today due to inclement weather.