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Dive into details of retired cranberry swamp restorations

A former cranberry swamp on the Kunameset River in Falmouth, Massachusetts, one side shows what it looks like immediately after restoration work and the other side shows what it looks like a year later. Credit: Sarah Klionsky

Cranberry agriculture was once a prominent industry in southeastern Massachusetts, but now that the cranberry industry is shifting to the United States and other parts of Canada, many New England cranberry swamps have retired and some of them are wetlands. Efforts are underway to restore it. Nature-based solutions to many problems, from flood control to filtering of environmental pollutants.


The rest of New England cranberry The farm is still concentrated in southeastern Massachusetts, and UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Department of Natural Resources and the Environment Ph.D. student Sarah Klionski focuses on her work. Is Restoration work We are increasing the number of wetlands in the area.

When cranberry farms started in this area, they were often built in wetlands. Although Klionsky is commonly referred to as “swamps,” these areas are usually not technically swamps in the botanical sense, but rather a type of wetland more commonly known as waterside swamps. .. Swamp restoration is a potential means of creating habitat for wildlife and plants and removing nitrates from waterways before reaching coastal estuaries.

Nitrate is a nutrient that causes problematic explosions in overgrown populations of fast-growing organisms such as algae and bacteria, whose accelerated growth depletes oxygen and is a devastating “dead” of marine and freshwater wildlife. Brings a “zone”. Nitrate can come from sources such as agricultural and household septic tank systems.

Determining whether and how these restored wetlands remove nitrogen is important information for future restoration efforts.If the restored farm is an effective nutrient absorber, other restorations of the retired farm may help increase the wetland area available for improvement. Water quality..

Restoring is not an easy task. Cranberry farming, unlike cultivated soil farming, can dramatically change landscapes and hydrology, says Klionsky. Cranberry plantations rely on water management functions such as dams and ditches, and every few years farmers control weeds and add a few centimeters of sand to stimulate the growth of cranberry vines. Over the years, this leads to a thick, heavy layer of sand that compresses the soil in the muddy wetlands below.

Restoration removes a small amount of sand, but it is very costly to completely remove, compression makes it much lower in elevation, and creates open water bodies instead of wetlands, says Klionsky. Restoration also involves creating variations of microtopography. There are slightly higher and lower spots throughout the site. This includes areas where native wetland soils are exposed, providing an opportunity to establish diverse plant communities.

“The restoration project is not about replanting or re-seeding the entire area. It’s a little more correct on the banks of the stream and a little more targeted planting,” says Klionsky. “Most of the plants that grow after restoration grow on their own.

“It’s one of the really amazing things about these restorations, and the reason they’re particularly attractive is that they have very few invasive and exotic species. They’re here and there, but they’re very structured. Then a small percentage of the plant cover. “

Compared to active restorations in abandoned areas, Klionsky set the restorations on the way back to the wetlands from former Cranberry farms, whereas abandoned areas are often overgrown with highland seeds. Say it will be.

To begin learning more about the fate of nitrogen in these restored wetlands, last summer’s Klionsky study focused on the removal of nitrates on wetland surfaces.

“There wasn’t much evidence of denitrification on the surface,” she says. “The surface of the wetland may not be in contact with groundwater and I think it will help remove nitrogen from it. However, these restored wetlands will help reduce the amount of nitrogen flowing downstream. I think there is a possibility. “

Future projects will identify areas of high contact between the restored wetland soil and nitrate-rich groundwater, and see if nitrogen is removed where the groundwater comes to the surface, Klionsky. Says.

Just as the process of growing cranberries can dramatically change the landscape, so can the process of returning a farm to a wetland. as a result, Restoration project Faced with various levels of opposition, Klionsky says.

“Cranberry farming is a big identity for people living in the area, and the lack of a farm can be familiar,” she says.

But many benefits come from the changes brought about by Restore.. The area tends to be quite developed, so the newly restored wetlands attract all kinds of wildlife.

“For example, the herring run, which was a historically significant event in southeastern Massachusetts, has been restored,” says Klionsky. “Because it has more natural spaces and habitats for different flora and fauna, you can see so many different birds, insects and amphibians using the restored site.”

Klionsky states that if a restoration helps water quality, it will be another benefit of restoring former cranberry swamps to wetlands.

“The really encouraging thing is to see how the community is using the site after it’s been restored. Wetlands, And you see lots of people coming out and enjoying the space. ”


A few years later, the restored wetlands remain in their old shadows


Quote: Details of the retired Cranberry Bog Restoration (February 21, 2022) obtained from //phys.org/news/2022-02-finer-cranberry-bog.html on February 21, 2022. Dig into.

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Dive into details of retired cranberry swamp restorations

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