Ecological Restoration at Nahant Thicket
Despite Mass Audubon's regular maintenance of Nahant Thicket, there were several management needs at the sanctuary.
Invasive plant species had become dominant in some sections, parking was limited, and the trails didn't meet Mass Audubon’s current standards for accessibility. In addition, the town-maintained stormwater drainage system didn't always function as designed.
Restoration efforts began in January 2018 and focused on three major goals:
- vegetation management to enhance wildlife habitat and the visual appeal of the outer boundaries of the thicket;
- addressing hydrological constraints that may contribute to localized flooding; and
- improving the visitor experience through improved parking, signage, and trails.
On May 22, a revised version of the Ecological Restoration & Maintenance Plan was created in order to incorporate feedback from the Conservation Commission and community members. The revised project proposes the following goals:
- Improve habitat values to benefit birds and other wildlife.
- Improve the existing trail system to provide better access during wet weather and reduce impacts of foot traffic by replacing the existing dirt path with a raised boardwalk.
- Improve access for visitors by improving the existing parking area by regrading and installing a visitor information kiosk.
- Hydrological modifications to improve water flow, benefiting habitat and the visitor experience.
An updated description of the proposed project was submitted to the Nahant Conservation Commission and discussed at a meeting on June 26, 2019. The plan was revised to incorporate feedback from the Conservation Commission and community members.
An updated and scaled back version of the proposed project to improve Nahant Thicket has been submitted to the Nahant Conservation Commission and will be discussed at their meeting on December 18, 2019. The plan was revised after feedback from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers. The goals of the revised project are to improve visitor access and experience at the site and improve wildlife habitat with limited invasive plant management.