Coastal Rivers volunteers remove invasive vines at Whaleback Shell Midden

Sat, 10/10/2020 - 8:30am

Visitors to Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site in Damariscotta may notice apple trees starting to re-emerge from a stranglehold of invasive vines. Thanks to a crew of Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust volunteers, several pick-up truck loads of vines were cut and removed in preparation for mowing between the trees.

Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands owns the property. Coastal Rivers helps manage it.

Changes in mowing patterns at the site had allowed Asiatic bittersweet and Multiflora rose to take hold and spread among the trees in recent years. Asiatic bittersweet vines can become as thick as a human arm and can restrict a tree’s growth as they twine around the trunk. Host trees can weaken and die as a result of this constriction and the shade from the vines’ leaves.

The work day was part of a larger effort by Coastal Rivers’ Stewardship Committee to combat the spread of invasive plants at preserves Coastal Rivers owns or co-manages. Called the “Bittersweet Brigade,” the group has met weekly in small work parties over the summer, to remove Asiatic bittersweet, Multiflora rose, Japanese barberry, Japanese knotweed and Black swallowwort at Salt Bay Farm, Round Top Farm and Salt Bay Heritage Preserve.

To learn more or to join a volunteer work crew, email Coastal Rivers Stewardship Committee co-chairs Joy Vaughan at or Bob Barkalow at

Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust is a non-profit, nationally accredited land trust with active programs in land conservation, water quality, trails and public access, and nature education in the Damariscotta-Pemaquid region. For more information, email or visit