An Innovative Approach to Restoration at Odiorne Point State Park
Oriental bittersweet has been taking over Odiorne Point State Park! This invasive vine was not noted at the park in a survey completed in 1972, but has since become a dominant species over much of the area, including in some rare plant community types. Oriental bittersweet was introduced to the United States from Asia in the 1860’s and has spread rapidly throughout the eastern US. It is a sprawling vine has the ability eliminate native plants by forming impenetrable thickets that shade and strangle supporting vegetation. The vine also can reduce soil acidity, making habitats more favorable for its own growth.
Historic vegetation surveys at Odiorne Point indicate that soil was probably more acidic in some areas in the past and has become less so over time, possibly due to colonization by Oriental bittersweet. As part of an integrated approach to habitat restoration, the Rockingham County Conservation District (RCCD) in partnership with the NH Division of Parks and Recreation has been removing Oriental bittersweet in the park and has been experimenting with using soil amendments to try to acidify the soil over time. Over the next several years, data will be collected to determine if soils can successfully be acidified and whether this proves to be detrimental to Oriental bittersweet seed regeneration while also being beneficial to the restoration of native vegetation. “Our initial results indicate that working with acidic mulches and native plants to acidify soils over the long-term will be more successful than using agricultural soil amendments,” noted RCCD ecologist Lenny Lord. “It’s a long process, but we believe it will ultimately help the restored native habitats to be more resilient as time goes on.”
The RCCD has been restoring habitats with its partners and hundreds of volunteers at Odiorne Point State Park since 2009. This phase of restoration was supported by NH State Conservation Committee Conservation Grant Program, with funds made possible by the sale of NH Conservation and Heritage License “Moose” Plates and by the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Foods IPM Grants. If you would like more information or to get involved, please contact the RCCD at firstname.lastname@example.org.