DES and Seacoast Youth Services Team Up to Stop the Spread of Perennial Pepperweed
Portsmouth, N.H. – This week the Coastal Program at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has teamed up with Seacoast Youth Services to help stop the spread of a destructive invasive plant – perennial pepperweed. Teens enrolled in a summer service learning program will pull an infestation of the perennial pepperweed at the Hampton Transfer Station this Tuesday and Wednesday, playing a crucial role in the Coastal Program’s second season of the pepperweed patrol program.
Coastal Program staff will train 22 teens ages 14-17 on how to control pepperweed through hand-pulling as well as give them a snapshot of what it’s like to work at an environmental agency.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to proactively address the pepperweed problem. I hope to instill a sense of stewardship in the kids and a feeling of ownership over their involvement in helping solve an environmental issue,” said Coastal Program staff member Carrie Schuman.
The story of pepperweed in New England and in the western U.S. has been about habitat destruction. Pepperweed’s aggressive and adaptable nature enables it to thrive in many environments, including salt marshes and roadsides, like the site at the Hampton Transfer Station. By pushing out native plants, pepperweed creates dense stands that are inhospitable to local wildlife.
Through the pepperweed patrol, the Coastal Program hopes to prevent massive pepperweed infestations in New Hampshire by mobilizing an early detection-rapid response strategy, which means finding and removing small populations before they are allowed to grow. Last summer, staff and volunteers identified two populations along the New Hampshire coast, one at Odiorne State Park in Rye and one at the Hampton Transfer station in Hampton.
The teens involved with the Seacoast Youth Services work program will help manage the Hampton site before pepperweed becomes permanently rooted in the fragile salt marsh habitat there.
This is the first year the Coastal Program has partnered with Seacoast Youth Services. Through a N.H. Department of Education and Workforce Opportunity Council grant supported by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds, Seacoast Youth Services received funding to work with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Odyssey New Hampshire, N.H. Division for Juvenile Justice Services and other local organizations to provide an exciting work experience program focusing on ‘environmental stewardship’ through a variety of conservation related projects this summer.
In the last decade, pepperweed has invaded the islands of Boston Harbor as well as salt marsh edges, roadsides, and drainage ditches just over the border in Newburyport and Salisbury Massachusetts. Resource managers in New Hampshire are coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Massachusetts on stopping its northward spread.
If you spot an infestation of pepperweed, please report the location to the Coastal Program at 559-0028. Please do not attempt to remove the plant yourself. Pepperweed requires specific handling techniques to prevent further spreading.
For more information, visit www.des.nh.gov and search for “pepperweed patrol.”
The New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) is a federally approved coastal program authorized under the Coastal Zone Management Act and is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. NHCP strives to maintain a balance between the use and preservation of coastal resources. Through partnerships, funding and science, NHCP works to improve water quality and decision making in 42 coastal watershed communities; supports maritime uses; and restores coastal wetlands and rivers.Seacoast Youth Services offers positive youth development programs to coastal New Hampshire youth and their families, including outreach to those who typically do not receive services. Through effective engagement and comprehensive best practice programs, their clients will develop a sense of belonging, productive life long skills, and increased hope for the future. Visit www.seacoastyouthservices.org for more information.
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