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Storm clean-up: Resilience & restoration

Cobbles were swept across Route 3 & into the pond.

Like many on the Maine coast, the Preserve continues to clean up after the destruction caused by the record-breaking storms this past winter. Read more about damage at the Preserve here. We are looking at the storm damage as an opportunity to evaluate how we manage the lands closest to the ocean.

At the Thuya dock and landing, we are returning the space to pre-storm conditions, but we are changing where we store the floats and walkway in the off-season to minimize damage from storms. The floats that were destroyed in the storm have been rebuilt, the landing has been cleared of debris, and a new walkway from the landing to the floats is scheduled to be installed this summer.

At Little Long Pond, we are taking a slightly different approach to managing the areas that were hardest hit by the storms.

The narrow strip of land between Route 3 and our southern carriage road acts as a drainage swale and has historically been vegetated with trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Waves from the recent winter storms pushed cobbles from the seawall into this swale and this is likely to happen again and again. We have decided to allow many of these cobbles to remain by the carriage road and mirror the cobble landscape on the southern side of the road. Within the swale we will try to establish seaside goldenrod, beach pea and American germander, which are all beautiful native plants that are adapted to living in rocky/sandy environments near the ocean.

Large amounts of cobblestones, sand and gravel were also pushed by waves into the southern end of the pond. They look like little peninsulas of new land. These areas closest to the pond are the most fragile so we discourage people from walking on them. Material being pushed into the pond by storms only accelerates the shallowing of the pond. We are planning to talk to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection about potentially removing this material without causing a disturbance to the tadpoles and fish.

In the third big storm that took place in March the Preserve lost dozens of trees in one night. Our crews were busy for weeks clearing trees from the carriage roads and the gardens. The trees that fell in the forest were not cleared. The storm was not as severe as the January storms, but the ground had thawed, and the soil was saturated with water which loosened the trees attachment to the earth. The wind easily knocked them over.

While the storms have undeniably left their mark, they have also provided us with unique opportunities to reassess and improve our land management strategies. There were also many terrific opportunities to see the dedication of our staff and local volunteers during the clean-up. Thanks to all!

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