Collaboration: SVIA & The Stonington COMO
28 Cutler Street
Stonington, CT 06378
The Stonington Village Improvement Association (SVIA) in partnership with the COMO has undertaken a project to restore the pond in front of the COMO to its original state. With the assistance of the DEEP, we are planning to remove the invasive reed, known as phragmites, in order to help restore the natural ecosystem to this area. Once the project is complete, we look forward to welcoming back natural wildlife, ice skating in the winters, and natural science programs throughout the warm weather.
The pond in front of the COMO has been invaded by phragmites or “common reed”. The reed is an invasive species that was introduced to North America in the 1940’s and has gradually taken over many acres of marsh land. Phragmites cannot grow in regular salt water but can grow in marshes where the tidal flows have been restricted. Phragmites grow mainly by extending their roots (rhizomes) either under the ground or at ground level. There are seed pods produced by the plant but only 10% of new growth comes from seeds. Ninety percent of new growth comes from the rhizomes.
Phragmites emit a chemical that kills all other plants thereby creating a monoculture. It is very dense and does not allow the movement of birds and animals. An ecosystem dominated by phragmites prevents small fish, frogs, insects, birds etc. from thriving, and allows the mosquito population to grow unchecked, due to a lack of predators. The plants grow vigorously in the spring through the summer and then die off in winter leaving brown stalks up to 18 feet tall which eventually compost. This cycle creates compost in the pond and if we do nothing, the pond will eventually disappear.
We will restore the ecosystem of this beautiful pond, thereby allowing natural plants such as cattails to re-grow. A diverse range of birds and aquatic creatures will also return. There are a number of benefits to restoring the pond. Most importantly, native plants will regenerate, bringing back red-winged blackbirds and muskrats. Small fish, amphibians, mammals and other wetlands loving birds also live in the pond and they will eat mosquito larvae, thereby reducing the mosquito population. Controlling the phragmites will stop the pond from disappearing and will allow everyone passing by to actually see and appreciate the pond. In winter, the pond will be used for ice-skating, as it was in the 1970’s. In the spring through fall, the pond will be used as an outdoor science learning center as part of the COMO’s programs.
We have met with various experts in this field and recommend using the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The DEEP has a department named Wetlands Habitat and Mosquito Management (WHAMM). This group is currently working on a project at Barn Island and on the Avalonia owned land at the end of Wall St. in Stonington Borough. The group has been in existence since 1997 and has controlled thousands of acres of phragmites over that time. They have recommended a three to five year program to effectively control the phragmites.