Effective Control and Removal of Non-Native and Invasive Plants to Restore Open Water and Wetland Habitats
The Mickill Pond system is a freshwater pond group located on a 15-acre private property at the southern tip of Westerly, Rhode Island, in an area known as Watch Hill. The ponds are separated from Block Island Sound by an approximate 250-foot-wide coastal dune and beach. Given the increasing development of the Rhode Island seacoast, this freshwater pond system represents a unique and desirable wetland habitat feature for the area and the state. Over the last decade, the ponds and associated wetlands became infested with non-native and invasive plant growth, specifically, common reed (Phragmites australis), porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) and Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). These species developed dense monotypic stands throughout the wetland areas and significantly encroached on the ponded areas, reducing open water. As a result of this invasive species colonization and the subsequent loss of species diversity and richness, the property owner sought to develop a project to control the invasive plant growth, restore open water and increase a diverse native plant assemblage.
Site Assessment & Plan Design
Coastal freshwater wetlands support many desirable and even rare native plant and animal species; therefore, the introduction and expansion of invasive plant growth threatens the resources’ ability to provide the habitats necessary for these species to flourish. In order to design an appropriate wetland restoration plan, the project team first cataloged plant species and mapped existing habitat zones.