Odiorne Point Ecosystem Restoration Project

In 2010 the Odiorne Point State Park Invasive Plant Management Plan (the Plan) was adopted to restore native plant communities, control invasive species infestations, eradicate new infestations and improve aesthetic and recreational opportunities and public safety at Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, NH.   

During the past decade, the Division of Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Rockingham County Conservation District (RCCD) have invested over $500,000 dollars (operating and grant funds) and over 2500 volunteer hours to restore the coastal habitats found at Odiorne Point State Park.

When the Plan was created, at least 18 of 26 prohibited species on the state invasive plant list have been documented at the park, and since that time additional species have been located. The Plan determined that 230 acres of the 330-acre park were heavily invaded by invasive plants, and so the RCCD set out to work on restoring those acres.  Species with the greatest threat to freshwater and brackish or coastal salt pond environments include glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus) and common reed (Phragmities).  These two plants are known to spread rapidly, forming monocultures that outcompete native wetland species in relatively short time spans.  Perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium) has also been found along a fringe saltmarsh near Frost Point and is found in only a couple of other locations in NH.  This plant is currently a significant problem in Massachusetts.  Luckily, each year that is has been located, it has been hand- picked so that it will not seed out.  The major threats to our coastal forested communities include Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), glossy buckthorn, and bush honeysuckles (Lonciera spp.)

Many of the invasive species within the park have been targeted for control using multiple Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques including mechanical and careful chemical control methods.  Rare plant surveys and archaeological studies are often completed prior to treatment of particular areas, which have enriched our understanding of the variety of cultural and natural coastal habitats found at this park.  Each year the Division of Parks and Recreation meets with key state agencies and partners including the NH Department of Environmental Services, Coastal Program, the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Foods, the NH Fish and Game, the Division of Historic Resources, the Natural Heritage Bureau and the Seacoast Science Center to discuss the work completed and the proposed work for the next season.  

RCCD continues to work inside guidelines for protecting historical and cultural resources, and to collaborate with these agencies and other partners to ensure appropriate management techniques are implemented.  Much of the project also relies on holding education and outreach sessions on site that include IPM techniques and native plantings.  Rare and imperiled coastal habitats, and a few community types that are globally rare are located at Odiorne.  Partner collaboration and significant volunteer assistance (majority comes from the Seacoast Science Center) really makes this coastal habitat restoration project at Odiorne a successful model.  

Since 2010, RCCD has been able to restore 140 acres of coastal habitat, including projects to: eliminate Phragmites from a coastal salt pond, restore the Bayberry beach plum maritime shrubland on a cobble dune, and eliminate buckthorn from a freshwater wetland that supported two state listed damselflies.  This restoration project is on-going with the aim of restoring native habitats that have been taken over by invasive plants. Additional resources will be needed for continued maintenance of these habitat types to prevent invasive plants from regaining a strong-foothold on the coastal habitats found here. Project partners have looked to the past, including a 1972 Floristic Study, to inform restoration design. Restoration design now also includes looking toward future potential conditions with accelerated sea level rise.