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Ongoing Projects and Activities

Pollinator Pathway and Invasive Plant Removal

After habitat loss, invasive species are the greatest threat to biodiversity in New England.  Invasive species are non-native species that grow very aggressively and to the detriment of native species and ecosystems, causing damage to the environment, economy, and human health.  In Branford several species of invasive plants and insects threaten our deciduous forests, marshes, beaches, waterways, wetlands, and yards.  The Commission is helping to tackle the threat of invasive plants through removal and management activities and educational efforts.

The Branford Pollinator Pathway project is part of a national, regional, and local effort to preserve and increase biodiversity by planting and cultivating native species of grasses, forbs (broadleaf herbaceous plants), shrubs, and trees.  We work hand in hand with our Invasive Plant Control team to restore areas of town property overrun with invasives into native meadow and woodland areas taht can support native insects and wildlife.  Our ultimate goal is to create a continuous pollinator habitat corridor beginning at the Branford Town Green and extending east along the spine of the Shoreline Greenway Trail. 

Since the fall of 2020, the Commission, along with volunteers from the community, has been engaged in efforts to remove invasive plants from town properties.  Our work has focused on areas at the Branford Early Learning Center and Anderson Lookout and has utilized manual removal and solarization to remove mugwort, garlic mustard, European swallowwort, multiflora rose, winged euonymus, tree of heaven, and other species.        

To that end, we have two pilot projects that we are using as a laboratory for invasives removal strategies and test areas for different species of native plants to see what will thrive.

Anderson Lookout is a pocket park on South Montowese Street between the train tracks and the north bank of the Branford River.  A favorite place for residents to enjoy breezes off the harbor, to fish and observe birds and wildlife, this area has seen a well-intended effort to plant a wildflower meadow on the steep hillside.  Over time, unfortunately, the slope and the banks of the river have been overtaken by the usual list of invasive suspects:  tree of heaven, mugwort, autumn olive, garlic mustard, and phragmites.  Working weekends with the Commission’s Invasives Plant Control team link to web page and willing volunteers, we were able to clear much of the area during 10 month’s time.  In July, 2021, we solarized the hillside by applying 6-milliliter clear plastic sheeting, allowing the sun to “cook” the remaining roots and small plants through the warmest summer months, preparing the earth for new, native ground cover and flowering plants.

In the open area behind the Branford Early Learning Center is another type of site we are using as a test plot for sheet plastic solarization and a variety of native plant species.  Along the Shoreline Greenway Trail at the edge of a wooded area is a diverse landscape consisting of a low-lying watercourse, exposed ledge, and naturally occurring patches of wildflowers and native plants. With our invasives experts and volunteer corps, we selectively weeded the wildflower meadow patch to remove as many invasives as possible and then added to the mix of established growth with plants sourced from volunteers’ native gardens. We mowed an area of about 1200 square feet that had been overrun with mugwort, and we applied the plastic sheeting for the hottest months of the summer. We followed with planting individual native plants and a special order of native meadow seed mix, adding a covercrop of rye seed, and topping it off with a layer of straw. This spring (2022) we trimmed the rye grass to prevent it from setting seed.  We’re excited to see what’s already blooming and we are looking forward to watching the meadow mature. Thank you to all of our volunteers who came out in sunshine and in rain!


Last Updated: Thu, 01/19/2023 - 1:49pm