Session: Planting Native Species at the Coast and Tracking the Spread of Marine Invasives

Moderator  – Marybeth Richardson

This session will introduce case studies and tips for managing invasive species and adapting to coastline changes with climate-resilient and habitat-enhancing native species to improve biodiversity in coastal settings.  The session will also present findings from more than a decade of survey data on marine invasive species at a number of long-term sampling sites located along about 91 kilometers of the Maine coast, and will demonstrate how useful volunteer monitoring data can be for efficiently detecting and tracking marine invasions in coastal systems.


Land Management Changes Since the 1600’s at Odiorne Point State Park, Rye NH

From 1623 when the first Euro-American settlement was established, to 1942 when the Federal Government took the land by eminent domain to create Fort Dearborn, the unique coastal habitats and uplands found at what is now Odiorne Point State Park have undergone tremendous alteration.  By the year 2000, invasive plants dominated the landscape at Odiorne Point, killing off native plants, destroying rare coastal habitats, and limiting access for public recreation.  The Rockingham County Conservation District began working with partners on restoring coastal habitats by creating an Invasive Plant Management Plan.  Since 2010, the District has restored 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.

Tracy Degan

Tracy Degan has been in the environmental field for over 30 years, with a background in marine policy and science, and partnering with local, state, and federal agencies.  She has a BS in Zoology and Psychology from UMass Amherst and a MA from the University of RI in Marine Policy/Science.   She has worked in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire and has spent almost half her career with the Rockingham County Conservation District.  There she has been fine-tuning and implementing a variety of coastal habitat restoration objectives at several sites in Rockingham county, as well as at Odiorne Point State Park. 


Native Landscapes for Coastal Property: A Sense of Place

Native plants help to define our sense of place on Maine’s coastal plain.  As climate change stresses our environment, the incorporation of a diverse assemblage of native plants in the landscape offer critical habitat to wildlife while buffering against drought and storms.  Native plants in the landscape foster stronger environmental recovery from events such as flooding, fire, and pests while requiring less maintenance and fewer chemical inputs.  The payoffs are lower ongoing costs for the homeowner and more interesting and diverse wildlife from pollinators and butterflies to bog lemmings, birds, frogs, salamanders, and more. Attention to small details can help recover threatened and endangered species such as the Karner Blue Butterfly.


Sue Schaller graduated from the UMass Amherst with a master’s degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation.  She has participated on her local planning board and conservation commission and worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in National Wetlands Inventory.  Sue moved to Maine in 1998 to co-author the Gulf of Maine Habitat Analysis, which identified critical habitat for wildlife species in decline, then migrated to work on horseshoe crabs in Maine and New Hampshire as well as coastal habitat restoration.  Sue provides a range of environmental consulting on native plants, landscape design, coastal restoration, environmental permitting and compliance for homeowners, businesses, and municipalities.   


The Pollinator Pathway Northeast:  Helping Coastal Residents Restore Biodiversity with Simple Action Steps

With over 300  towns in nine states in the Northeast in various stages of launching Pollinator Pathway, this landowner outreach strategy has taken the region by storm in only four years.  By planting natives, avoiding pesticides, and reducing lawn, this very scalable initiative has the potential to create healthy, connected habitats for pollinators and wildlife as they move across the landscape.  The Pollinator Pathway has all the ingredients to help landowners restore biodiversity with simple action steps, especially in the coastal communities.

Judy Preston, Connecticut Sea Grant


The Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC): Citizen scientists track the spread of invasive species in the Gulf of Maine

 The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming bodies of water on the planet.  This warming trend is suspected to increase the chances for invasive species to establish viable populations in the Gulf of Maine and rapidly expand in abundance and spatial coverage, which will affect fisheries, aquaculture, biodiversity, ecology, and recreation.  Since 2008, citizen scientists have been monitoring a select set of marine invasive organisms in the intertidal zone along the New England Coast, sampling monthly from May to October. The goals of MIMIC are to work with community members to help in the early detection and documentation of marine invasive species throughout New England and provide sound data on the arrival and dispersal of marine invasive species.  This presentation will highlight the findings over a decade of survey data on marine invasive species occurrences at long-term sampling sites along the Maine coast and demonstrate how useful volunteer monitoring data can be for efficiently detecting and tracking marine invasions in coastal systems.

Jeremy Miller

 Jeremy Miller is the System Wide Monitoring Coordinator at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, ME, where he manages NOAA’s System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP).  He is also the Maine State Coordinator for the Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC) and coordinates 40+ citizen scientist in conducting monthly monitoring for marine invasive species at 17 long term monitoring sites in Maine.  He is an active participant on the Maine Marine Invasive Species Workgroup and the Maine Invasive Species Network.  Jeremy attended the University of New England in Biddeford, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Marine Biology.