Conservationists use brush cutting, mowing, grazing and prescribed fire to manage and restore grasslands and other sandplain natural communities. However, sometimes these natural communities are so badly degraded by invasive species that more intensive restoration work is needed. Sheriff's Meadow is conducting this type of intensive restoration work at several sites, two on the shores of great ponds in Chilmark and three sites in Edgartown.
At both Chilmark sites Phragmites is growing on the mudflats and pond shores, crowding out the native wetland plants and severely degrading the habitat for most of the animals that utilize these plants. With funding provided by a Landowner Incentive Grant from MassWildlife and donations of time and money from many of the neighbors, Sheriff's Meadow is overseeing the eradication of Phragmites from Doctor’s Creek, the channel that connects upper and lower Chilmark Ponds.
At Quansoo Farm, Sheriff's Meadow has hired Polatin Ecological Services to help us control the Phragmites growing along the shore of Black Point Pond.
In Edgartown we are restoring three sites at three properties: Sheriff's Meadow Sanctuary, the Caroline Tuthill Preserve and the Eberstadt Property. These sites were completely overgrown with Asiatic bittersweet. All were so overgrown that there was barely space for native plants to grow and the bittersweet roots were so thick that it was very difficult to plant more desirable plants. We decided that the only feasible option was to clear an area completely and replant it with native plants.
We started by plowing up the restoration area and then removing as many of the bittersweet roots as possible by hand. Once the area was cleared, we replanted it with native plants, grown from island seed, appropriate to the setting. We purchased some plants from Kris Henriksen’s Going Native Nursery. The Nature Conservancy and Polly Hill Arboretum also gave us many of the plants used at these sites.
The Sheriff's Meadow site, which is at the Sanctuary entrance and the Caroline Tuthill Preserve site, which is in the field on the north side of the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road near the triangle, are both easily accessible for anyone who wants to see restoration work in progress.
We are conducting a much more extensive restoration project on the whole of the Sheriff's Meadow Sanctuary. There, in areas throughout the property, we are eradicating such non-native plants as Asiatic bittersweet, porcelain berry, garlic mustard and more. The bulk of the restoration work will be completed by June 2014.
At Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, we are restoring moss beneath a beech grove beside the red trail. At the Neck portion of the Sanctuary, we are using goats from the Native Earth Teaching Farm to eat bittersweet and reestablish the open character of this scenic part of the property.