Jackson Lane wetland. Photo by Doug Samson, TNC
Restored Coastal Plain Pond Featured in The Nature Conservancy’s News
The cover story for the Nature Conservancy’s Maryland/DC News brings readers to Jackson Lane Preserve, in Caroline County, Maryland where scientists from Maryland Department of the Environment, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined TNC and restored farmland to its natural state, a unique wetland type called Coastal Plain Ponds or Delmarva Bays.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) acquired a 330-acre farm adjacent to the Jackson Lane Preserve. The farm had an extensive network of drainage ditches and subsurface drainage tiles that drained the land making it suitable for farming.
In 2003, the partnership began restoring 220 acres of agricultural fields and 45 woodland acres previously drained by manmade ditches and subsurface drainage tiles. Various techniques were used to restore the site including building a series of earthen ditch plugs and removing subsurface tiles to restore the natural hydrology to the landscape.
Several hundred red maples trees were removed, which allowed a diverse herbaceous plant community to return. Two ditch plugs were constructed to restore the natural hydrology. Tree seedlings, potted trees and shrubs as well as transplanted mature trees were planted.
Sixty truckloads of logs and stumps, collectively called coarse woody material, were placed around the site. Woody material is an important habitat element in natural woodland and wetland systems, providing perches for birds, resting areas for frogs and turtles, and hiding areas for salamanders, snakes, and small mammals.
The Nature Conservancy put together an extensive monitoring program. The success of this restoration quickly appeared with arrival of six state-rare wetland plant species. More than 50 varieties of wetland plants grow in the ponds which in the spring and summer teem with aquatic invertebrates. Within one year of restoration, biologists recorded 23 of 27 native amphibians and reptiles and 55 dragonfly and damsel fly species. Within two years, migratory tundra swans and state-rare pied-billed grebes were among the 70 bird species taking advantage of this unique habitat.