Foote's Pond Wood Restoration Team
Friends of Foote’s Pond Wood (see www.fofpw.org for wildlife photo galleries)
(By John and Susan, published in New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team newsletter)
During 2020, 36 volunteers contributed just under 500 hours of work in this 24-acre woodland and meadow park that had become horribly overgrown with invasives. We are limited to mechanical control. Our work has been structured as narrow sub-projects (one or two target invasives in one area at a time) based on an assessment and recommendations by Mike Van Clef in 2019. Some project highlights are provided below with photos.
One challenging area is an erstwhile meadow stretching north-south between a school yard and the dock, with woodland on the east and west (outlined in red at left). Imposing 6- to 8-foot-tall walls of multiflora along the trail and around the dock platform threatened incautious visitors and sometimes caused tears for unwary toddlers.Vigorous porcelain berry vines with base stems up to four inches in diameter were smothering the smaller trees and slowly engulfing even the 50-60 footers. Japanese honeysuckle and oriental bittersweet vines also had major footprints but were less dominant.
This was unfortunately a high disturbance removal effort, requiring many passes to find and remove robustly resprouting root crowns. We had both lopper-wielding bramble and vine cutter volunteers and precision root puller volunteers. One guideline was to not pull the vines out of the trees and beneficial shrubs to not break branches. Near the shore we happily uncovered both silky and red twig dogwoods that had been engulfed under the brambles and vines. We chose to mound the trimmings into composting brush piles instead of dragging them across fragile soil to be hauled away.
Now the planter-volunteers are doing their work as we enter the restoration phase. We have just seeded the meadow areas with Ernst Seeds Deer Resistant Meadow mix. Bare root arrowwood viburnum, hazelnut, buttonbush, and elderberry shrubs are on order towards establishing a shrubby woodland edge. We are going to experiment with silky dogwood, red twig dogwood, and pussy willow live stakes to strengthen the native riparian border. And for park-patron-pleasing fastest recovery, in April-May we will plant many trays of diverse native perennial plugs. We planted plugs like these in another area last spring and they were 3-4 feet tall by late summer!
We will also scatter open-pollinated Zinnia and Coreopsis tinctoria seeds to boost the first year punch of flowers. Last summer the non-native but non-invasive Zinnias in another meadow area delighted covid-weary park patrons with months of colorful nectar-rich blooms busy with butterflies and occasional hummingbirds.
We expect a thriving young pollinator meadow in this dock-to-schoolyard area by July or August. (And will be monitoring for and removing the porcelain berry and Japanese honeysuckle vines that will recur).