Invasive Species Removal
When the GSWA acquired the CMA, the property was overgrown with invasive species, especially Multiflora Rose, Tartarian Honeysuckle, Japanese Stilt Grass, Garlic Mustard, Japanese Barberry, Privet, Burning Bush, Purple Loosestrife, and Russian Olive. These species outcompeted most woody native plants. With the help of many hundreds or hours of volunteer stewardship GSWA has cleared a significant portion of those invasive species from the property. This gives remaining native species the chance to thrive, and leads to greatly increased biodiversity at the site when effects of the exclosure are added in. See sites below for more information about invasive plants. To get involved in this project visit our Volunteer Page.
Deer populations in the area are estimated to exceed 100 deer/square mile, while natural carrying capacity is closer to 10-15 deer/square mile. Large deer populations reduce biodiversity in a region due to their selective grazing of native species. Undergrowth gets destroyed by being trampled or eaten, not allowing for the survival of new plants.
In order to curb the effect of deer and increase biodiversity, the GSWA constructed a deer exclosure in 2005 around twenty three acres of the property. The fence is approximately 7 feet high, but GSWA is looking to add an additional foot to that height to further protect the site. Excluding deer will improve the area as a wildlife habitat, especially for neo-tropical migratory birds, several threatened amphibian and invertebrate species. The CMA has already seen increased numbers of native plants, especially spring ephemerals and woody understory shrubs thanks to this fencing.
Native Species Introduction
GSWA introduces native plants to the property as invasive species are cleared from the site. They plant shrubs and trees that would normally thrive at the location, but have been out-competed by deer and invasive plants. With time these plants, due to their role as a source of food and protection, will attract animals to the site and therefore further increase the biodiversity and ecological functioning of the site. Eventually the site will serve as a source of Native shrub seeds that can spread back across the fencing, acting as a reservoir of native plants.
The CMA is increasingly attractive to birds and other animals with the addition of berry- and seed-producing native plants, but to further provide an appealing habitat bird and bat boxes have been constructed and feeders have been placed throughout the site. The bird boxes are made to attract specific species, so they are built according to the habitat and nesting preferences of those birds. The extra seed also draws birds to the site. Brush piles attract animals serving as protection from predators and and a good insect hunting ground. They are created by piling woody branches of invasive species as they are cleared.
Increased Visitation and Education
One function of the CMA is to educate visitors about the importance of land stewardship. In order to show the improvements that have been made to the CMA, and also emphasize the importance of biodiversity and the protection of fragile habitats, interpretive signs have been placed throughout the site. Wayside markers correspond to information about that site, including what can be seen there and its importance. A trail guide brochure with trail map and important information about the site is available at the trailhead. Nearly two thousand feet of boardwalk carry hikers over especially wet regions of the floodplain forested trail to make the walk more enjoyable, and a list of all species seen at the site is available here.
The CMA receives water as runoff from I-287 and other impervious surfaces, meaning the water flows quickly into the streams, which increases erosion. The GSWA has stabilized over 1400 feet of stream bank in order to reduce the effects of this. Live stakes have been planted, and have had positive results. The roots of these plants hold the dirt in place, reducing the presence sedimentation of the water and reducing erosion of the banks.
There are a number of vernal pools at the CMA, and the GSWA has taken some action to ensure that they will remain healthy. Vernal pools are critical for certain species, and are a very valuable characteristic of a habitat. The GSWA has girdled trees around the vernal pools and plans to dig out some of the sediment in order to preserve these sites.