For the next three years, a substantial effort will be underway to eradicate the invasive plants that have been taking over the 2,500-acre Middlesex Fells Reservation.
Christopher Redfern, executive director of the Friends of the Fells, said the Invasive Management Plan will be funded by a $16,666 grant from the state Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR). He said SWCA Environmental Consultants has been chosen to create the plan, which will then be implemented by the DCR and the Friends of the Fells.
“This project is going to help us combat harmful plants,” said Redfern. He said some of these plants are oriental bittersweet, garlic mustard, black swallow-wort and Japanese knotweed.
Redfern also said many invasive plants are able to withstand the harsh winter months. “They’ll come roaring back in the spring and into the summer,” he said.
Redfern said the Lawrence Woods section of the Fells is one area of concern where oriental bittersweet has become prevalent. He said the plant does its damage by wrapping itself around a tree and eventually overtakes the canopy causing the tree to die. Dana’s Meadow and the shoreline around Bellevue Pond are also at risk.
Once the project is completed, Redfern and his colleagues will be responsible for ensuring that the invasive plants stay out of the Fells. “It’s an ongoing commitment to do this kind of work,” he said.
The grant is part of a $1.2 million thrust to improve the State Parks System. In addition to the Fells, 28 other projects will be supported through the DCR Partnerships Matching Funds Program.
“The DCR Partnership Matching Funds Program allows us to work with dedicated stakeholders, such as municipalities, nonprofits and other community-based organizations to make significant investments within the Massachusetts State Parks System,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Importantly, this funding will be used to improve ecological health as well enhance and expand public use and enjoyment for years to come.”
DCR Acting Commissioner Stephanie Cooper also spoke in favor of the Partnership Matching Funds Program. “The Department of Conservation and Recreation is proud to work with so many passionate stakeholders through the Partnership Matching Funds Program,” she said. “The funding provided to this year’s deserving projects will make great improvements to agency assets and will enhance the visitor experience.”