Sudbury Valley Trustees’ Desert Natural Area

Name: Laura Mattei  Organization: Sudbury Valley Trustees  Phone: (978) 443-5588

Site location:
Desert Natural Area within GWF Memorial Forest, Sudbury

Basic property description:

Located in Sudbury and Marlborough, the Desert Natural Area is a 900-acre ecosystem complex within a larger area of over 4,000 acres of protected conservation lands. The property includes the General Federation’s Memorial Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary, two tracts of Marlborough State Forest, and conservation lands owned by Town of Sudbury and City of Marlborough.

This ecosystem complex contains fire and disturbance-dependent communities of pitch pine-scrub oak barrens in a habitat mosaic with red maple swamps, cold-water streams, and associated wetlands. It also contains oak and pine forests and variable topography. All of these factors contribute to valuable wildlife habitat. The property also contains an extensive trail system of old woods roads.

Management area description:

The entire site is being managed for control of invasive plants. (see property overview)

Acres in the management area: 600  Listed on EDDMaps? No

Habitat type: Field/forest edge, Floodplain forest, Herbaceous marsh, Oak/pine forest, Pitch pine forest, Right-of-way, Stream bank, Upland/wetland edge

Was this Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR)? No

Initial Overall Invasive Distribution Description:

Isolated patches near residential areas. Glossy buckthorn was found along disturbance corridors, dense around wetlands, and lightly scattered throughout other areas . Multiple invasive species were found along the Old Concord Road trail in Marlborough. Patch of invasives at trail junction E.

Initial Overall Percent Cover of Invasives: 6 - 25%

Target species:

Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Black Swallowwort (Cynanchum louiseae syn: Cynanchum nigrum)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Bush Honeysuckle (Lonucera maackii, Lonicera morrowii, Lonicera tatarica, Lonicera x bella)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Common Reed (Phragmites australis)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
European Rusty Willow and Gray Willow (Salix atrocinerea (L.) Gaertn.) and Gray Willow (S.cinerea (L.) Gaertn.)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Glossy Buckthorn (Frangula alnus)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)  
Invasive Species
Initial Percent Cover
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)  

Management objectives:

This invasive control project was a part of a larger habitat restoration and conservation land management program. Due to the ecological and social importance of this area, our goal is to reduce invasive plants to below 10% cover in all habitat areas. We are targeting a few different management units for treatment.

Approximate project start date: June 1, 2012

Years this project has been ongoing:

Project summary:

SVT and the City of Marlborough have employed a variety of techniques to control all invasive plants throughout the 600-acre Desert Natural Area over the course of the last 5 years and going forward.

Control method: Chemical, Manual, Mechanical

Disposal method: Left on site, buckthorn piles with roots off ground

Detailed project timeline:

In 2009, SVT coordinated a team of volunteers to map invasive plants throughout the 600 acre Desert Natural Area.

In 2010, SVT and the City of Marlborough coordinated several volunteer workdays to target smaller patches and isolated plants that were feasible to remove manually.

Summer-Fall 2012:
NEWFS staff herbicided black swallowort (at Marlborough entrance) . Used spray with 4% active ingredient in late June before seed pod development.
Phragmites and Japanese knotweed: Cut and dab by NEWFS staff using Accord Concentrate, a wetland formulated glyphosate at 25-30% concentration, in early August
Garlic Mustard hand pulled by volunteers in early May 2012
Oriental bittersweet , Glossy Buckthorn, Honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, Winged euonymus, and Multiflora rose: foliar spray and cut and paint by NEWFS certified applicators with volunteer assistance- mid July
Purple loosestrife: released additional Galerucella beetles for biocontrol

Around 10 acre burn area:
Manual removal of glossy buckthorn from along trail and abutting wetland
Oriental bittersweet: backpack sprayers and cut and paint (at junction E)
Herbicide and volunteer team removal of glossy buckthorn around full perimeter of burn area, hand pull small plants, cut and paint larger shrubs.

Since 2012, SVT hashosted 1-3 volunteer work days per year in which volunteers manually removed glossy buckthorn along stream corridors and in the southeast corner of forest near the junction of Cranberry and Hop Brooks.

In 2013, SVT hired NEWFS to treat the phragmites patch by the Womens Federation headquarters. We were unable to treat the entire patch. We have abandoned work at that site due to lack of resources.

For three consecutive years (2013 - 2015), SVT hired contractors to cut and dab glossy buckthorn along the wetlands margins from the Heron Spur Trail that crosses Cranberry Brook to the abandoned rail line crossing on Hope Brook. These contractors also treated the Rusty Willow in the area of the Heron Spur Trail.

In Spring 2017, City of Marlborough has hired a contractor to treat all invasives along and near the Old Concord Road trail corridor on their property. The DCR Forest is manually removing scattered invasive plants on their land in 2017.

Restoration summary:

Pitch pine scrub oak barrens are being restored using a combination of mechanical, logging and burn treatments. No planting.

Funding sources: NFWF (PTI), Sudbury Foundation, USDA EQIP, MassWildlife, DCR Forest Stewardship Program and the Foundation for MetroWest

Final acres in management: 600

Open to the public: Yes

Able to Provide Tours: Yes

Success Rate:

Current Overall Percent Cover of Invasives: 0 - 5%

Comments / Takeaways

This program is very effective because we have been able to raise the funds and dedicate resources over the course of the last 7 years and going forward. While the invasive plant distribution is approximately the same, we have eliminated invasive plants in a few areas.

Last Updated: June 30, 2012