HIPP’s Otter Brook Project
The Otter Brook Project will center on the Otter Brook Preserve in Harpswell, combining educational and community activities with invasive plant removal and control efforts.
Otter Brook Preserve was opened to the public by the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust in 2018. The eastern portion of this 68-acre property consists of the Otter Brook, one of the largest freshwater wetlands in Harpswell. The southern portion consists of a former woodlot. The northern portion is mainly coniferous forest of similar age. Altogether, the Preserve serves as an important corridor for wildlife passing up and down Harpswell Neck.
Invasive plants threaten this important wildlife habitat in several areas. The southern portion has scattered invasive plants that have become established and are spreading in the disturbed soil resulting from forestry operations. Harpswell Invasive Plant Partnership (HIPP) began removing invasive plants in this area in 2019 and plans to continue removing plants mechanically in 2020 and 2021.
The northern, wooded portion has some scattered invasive plants, as well as a large section that is densely overgrown with invasives that crept in from the adjacent homestead on the west. HIPP plans to call on volunteers using mechanical and other means to remove the scattered plants, and to hire the services of a professional firm to apply herbicide to the dense patch. The wetlands appear to be free of invasive plants, but by removing invasives elsewhere, we hope to protect this valuable habitat.
The public education effort will take several forms. Signage at the entrance and along the trails of the Preserve will explain the dangers of invasive plants and what can be done to address them. Additional signs will identify specific invasive plants. Newspaper articles and notices will extend the awareness campaign to the entire community, together with public lectures and presentations. School groups, families and other residents will be invited to participate in removal and planting events.