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Home » From the Commissioner

Combating Invasive Species

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (August 6, 2011)

The trails at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye offer great views of New Hampshire’s coastline and estuarine habitats.  This time of year the park offers cooling breezes, opportunities for birding and exploration of this historic site of early settlement and agriculture—and World War II fortifications. Unfortunately, Odiorne Point is also a textbook study of how invasive plant species can overrun important natural communities and habitats. The good news is that coordinated efforts to tackle these rampant invasive plants are also visible from park trails. The Coastal Watershed Invasive Plant Partnership has undertaken a major initiative, developing management plans and seeking grant funding to restore and protect the diversity of native plant species and the unique coastal habitat that exists within the park. The CWIPP is a partnership of the Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, the Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program, Fish & Game, Department of Transportation, Department of Resources and Economic Development, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rockingham County Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and UNH Cooperative Extension Service.

The World War II-era Fort Dearborn property was sold to the state fifty years ago. The park encompasses the state’s largest area of undeveloped coastline, early colonial settlement sites, and a variety of important habitats and natural features. Unfortunately,  the 330-acre property has been overrun with a diversity of invasive plant species such as Oriental bittersweet, Glossy buckthorn, Japanese barberry, Multiflora rose, autumn olive, Perennial pepperweed, Norway maples, shrub honeysuckles and the only population of Japanese honeysuckle known to occur in New Hampshire, notes Doug Cygan, invasive species coordinator for the Division of Plant Industry.

Since CWIPP was established three years ago, Doug has been involved with many control activities in the park. Volunteers from various schools, and employees from Stratham-based Timberland Company’s community-service initiative, have dedicated days of labor to pulling, cutting, clearing and stacking invasive plant debris. “In addition to these mechanical control measures we also employ the use of herbicides to treat several of the larger populations,” he adds, “generally in the fall, just after the flowering period.” Timing is essential to ensure the applications are effective and do not coincide with the park’s busy season. The presence of rare and important species in the park requires provisions to protect those populations while controlling the invasives.

Kevin Lucy of the DES Coastal Program heads up the Odiorne Point CWIPP project, and Rockingham County Conservation District is the grant applicant and manager. RCCD has several other grant projects in various stages, including restoration of the Goss Farm property acquired as conservation land by the Town of Rye, and phragmites control in a New Castle tidal marsh. In partnership with the Derry Conservation Commission, RCCD has undertaken a project to control Oriental bittersweet, burning bush, Japanese knotweed, and blunt-leaved privet on town-owned forest at Shepard Park.

Doug Cygan is also working with the town of Meredith and the NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT) to map and control invasive plants. While herbicides are being used on two areas, Doug is experimenting with the use of black plastic to smother two smaller infestations. One highly visible site in the center of town has gotten a lot of positive response from the community.

The Division of Pesticide Control has received a number of special permit requests to control invasive plant species in 2011. NHDOT has requested the greatest number of special permits.  NH Fish and Game has also requested a special permit for invasive species control.  Special permit requests for controlling invasive plant species have also come from professional pesticide control companies and municipalities.  Pesticide Control Director David Rousseau reports the top three invasive plant species targeted for pesticide special permits issued are:  Japanese knotweed, Phragmites and Oriental bittersweet.

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner
(reprinted from the Weekly Market Bulletin published by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, & Food, August 3, 2011)

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