In April 2013 the Rowayton Gardeners committed to help finance the wetland restoration project. This site is approximately a 0.75 acre open space parcel south of Rowayton School Pond at the intersection of McKinley Street and Roton Avenue. This site is where the pond drains forming a connection to Farm Creek. It seemed like a logical extension of the work the Gardeners had already done at Rowayton School Pond.
Wetlands have a significant place in our environment. A healthy wetland provides a wonderful habitat for birds and wildlife. Unfortunately this one was being overtaken by a variety of invasive plant species, most significantly, Common Reed (Phragmites australis). There were also numerous invasive woody vines and shrub species throughout the site. The significant storms we had experienced around that time damaged many of the trees and disturbed the closed canopy, creating large light gaps. This disturbance condition favors the invasive species and allows them take over which is exactly what happened.
In collaboration with the City of Norwalk and their Conservation Department, the Gardeners worked with All Habitat, LLC, a company well known for their expertise in restoring wetlands. We signed a three year management contract with them. Each year we were happy to see a significant decrease in the infestation of invasive plants. In August our contract ended and we are happy to report that the level of invasive vines, shrubs and Phragmites is now under control. We are also thrilled to report that we are seeing native species return to the area and enhance the overall quality of the habitat function.
Going forward with this restoration project the Gardeners will be managing this project on a limited basis. It is a natural area and is meant to be just that. However monitoring the area with monthly walk throughs during the growing seasons and cutting any reoccurring invasive plants that try to come back will be key to keeping it under control. In the coming year we will also be looking at planting other native shrubs, plants or trees to help this habitat further.