Comings and Goings at Macricostas Preserve

By: Mike Giapponi

Until recently, the northern and western edges of the Macricostas Hay Field were choked by heavy infestations of invasive plants. Burning Bush, Japanese Barberry, and Oriental Bittersweet were just a few of the many noxious plant species that flourished there. Because these plants are non-native, few local animal species eat or prey upon them. Lacking any natural checks to their growth, these plants easily outcompete native vegetation, resulting in dense monocultures with little ecological value.

Beginning in 2014, SRA, through the generous support of a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grant, began an intensive effort to restore the native landscape. Over the past five years, SRA staff combed the forest and meadow, clearing invasive plants from a total of 45 acres. This past winter, SRA hired a contractor to clear the heaviest infestation along the field edge with a forestry mulcher, a large mower that grinds woody material into small, easily degradable pieces.

Already, large stands of native grasses and herbaceous perennials have re-emerged. In time, and with continued monitoring and management, a diverse array of woody shrubs and perennials will dominate the site, offering rich sources of food and shelter for the Preserve’s resident critters. 
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