Friends of Sears Island volunteers perform stream monitoring.
Friends of Sears Island volunteers perform stream monitoring.
Last summer Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) implemented a stewardship plan for the 601-acre conservation area on the island, and the project is close to completion. Mapping was done, a survey of flora and fauna in the area was made, invasive plants were identified and their removal begun, and tools were developed so that “citizen scientists” can help to protect the island and its plants and animals.

The project was undertaken using grants from the Maine Community Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation and the Town of Searsport. Aleta McKeage and Cloe Chunn of GreenWays Center and Consulting Group led the effort, with help from college interns, students from Belfast High School and Unity College, and FOSI volunteers.

Data was used to create guides, available on the FOSI website, to wildlife and plants on the island. FOSI hopes to accumulate a thorough record of changes on the island over time, and visitors are invited to use tools on the website for reporting observations and submitting photos.

Invasive plants that were controlled included purple loosestrife and Oriental bittersweet, which were removed from the area along with patches of Japanese barberry. Garden valerian and purple loosestrife were completely removed from the sensitive coastal dune grassland, which for Maine is a rare plant community.

For more information on the project and FOSI’s Citizen Science Initiative, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org.