Student Conservation Association Plans Big Impact at Constitution Marsh

Volunteer battling with reeds

AmeriCorps program to help control invasive species 

Constitution Marsh is a 270-acre tidal marsh in the heart of the Hudson Highlands near Cold Spring. Protected by New York State Parks, Recreation & Preservation (NYSPRP) since 1970, it is an irreplaceable habitat for plants and wildlife of the Hudson River Estuary. Audubon New York (ANY) and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) are partnering to control a fast-growing, non-native variety of common reed (phragmites), which jeopardizes the ecological health of this wildlife sanctuary.

Under certain conditions, the common reed grows rapidly in huge, dense stands that diminish the number and diversity of native plants and animals in wetlands and coastal marshes and degradeshoreline views. SCA and ANY staff will work together to prevent a large-scale change in the plant community in Constitution Marsh by flattening and covering reed patches with reusable black geotextile sheets that will overheat and kill the thick rootmats, greatly reducing or eliminating the need for herbicides. Although this method is labor-intensive and time consuming, it will be moved forward significantly as 35 SCA volunteers work alongside ANY staff over the course of three days. The marsh is part of the Hudson Valley landscape that has been designated a “significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat” and a “scenic area of statewide significance” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC) and is an Audubon “important bird area” and a New York State “bird conservation area.”

Now in its second century, ANY is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Its national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining bird populations engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation.
Photo courtesy of Constitution Marsh

One thought on “Student Conservation Association Plans Big Impact at Constitution Marsh

  1. This is a very long-term undertaking. The weed WILL BE BACK, again and again. Harvesting it must pay for itself. The plant is all biomass. Researchers at the U. of Manitoba recently released a report on pelletizing it for fuel.