Establishment and Maintenance Schedule for Caumsett Historic State Park Preserve Grassland Restoration Area

Suzanne Feustel - Environmental Chairperson Caumsett Foundation
Annie Mclntyre - Regional Environmental Manager, NYS Parks

The purpose of this plan is to maintain grassland habitat on a 30-acre site that was restored and seeded with native grasses and wildflowers. Maintaining this site will promote species diversity including habitat for grassland dependent birds, which have declined precipitously at both the regional and national level.

NYSOPRHP, Long Island Sound Futures Fund, Long Island Community Foundation, Huntington Oyster Bay Audubon Society and the Caumsett Foundation have all recognized the importance of this site as native grassland habitat.

Recommendations for maintaining this area as a native grassland has been guided by the professional advice from the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Professor R. Schmidt of Farmingdale College Department of Horticulture, Prairie Moon Nursery and Ernst Conservation Seed Company. As with any management plan natural circumstances especially weather may require changes in maintaining this area as native grassland.

Most importantly, vegetation can shift rapidly from grassland to shrub and tree communities when proper management does not occur. Therefore it is critical that all parties work as a team in maintaining this site as native grassland ensuring the benefits ofincreased biodiversity for future generations.


In 2010 the Caumsett Foundation and NYS Parks Regional Environmental Office initiated a project to remove invasive plants on a 30-acre site and remediate with native grasses and wildflowers. This initial phase was the most comprehensive as it removed dominant dense woody invasive vegetation by plowing and disking. Also included was the removal of five large invasive trees within a 500-foot invasive hedgerow. In 2013, Phase 2 removed all sprouted saplings and persistent invasives by plowing and disking the fields repeatedly during the growing season. In Phase 3 the fields were again disked through out the 2014-growing season. This third season of disking helped reduce the invasive seed bank so that planting of native grasses and wildflowers could occur in the spring of 2015. In May of 2015 native grasses and wildflowers were planted at a rate of approximately 13 lb/acre utilizing a Truax No Till Drill. Over the course of the summer the field was mowed to a height of 4 to 6 inches whenever the weed flush reached a height of 18 inches.

Establishment and Maintenance Plans

The following plan is two fold in its purpose. It provides a management plan for the continued establishment of the native grassland and a separate maintenance plan to be carried out once the grassland is established. Each plan is described below.

Responsibilities: Park management, the Regional Environmental Office and Caumsettt Foundation will coordinate on the timing mowing ofthe restoration area. Caumsett State Park staff will mow fields. The Environmental Office and the Caumsett Foundation will supervise volunteers and/or interns targeting non-desirable woody and herbaceous plants and other restoration related work.

1. Establishment Plan

Second Year of Establishment - Growing Season 2016


In mid-spring mow the standing residual vegetation as close to the ground as possible.

Time: The restoration field should be mowed when most of the vegetation has greened up. This will generally be about the same time lawns are first mowed in the spring.

Mowing Equipment options: Mow using a flail type mower with a hay baler. If a hay baler is not available use a batwing mower and cut the vegetation in three directions. Three-directional mowing will cut the vegetation as fine as possible reducing thatch build-up allowing native seeds and plants to break dormancy.


To control woody vines, perennial plants and turf grasses mow at approximately 12 inches to a height of 4 - 6 inches when flowers begin to form on the plants. Make sure to mow the weeds before they make seeds. Target non-desirable woody and herbaceous plants via mowing, weed whacking or hand cutting.


Mow as needed when the vegetation is 14-18" tall to set back unwanted weeds. During the second full growing season timely mowing should continue to control persistent weed problems. Noxious weeds should be eradicated by pulling or carefully wick whipping with an appropriate herbicide (see Special Circumstance section below.) In some instances plant roots will be removed.

Continue this treatment until native grasses reach a foot or so tall. Trimming should cease by mid-September.

Special Circumstances:

If a heavy infestation of ragweed or foxtail is observed in the second growing season, trim the meadow to a height of 8 inches whenever growth exceeds 18 - 24 inches. Trimming below 4“ will kill seedlings of many native species.

If subsequent physical removal is not sufficient to prevent the establishment of invasive species or shrubs, spot treatment with herbicides could be considered.

Third year of Establishment - Growing Season 2017

Timing: Mow to a height of 4 to 6" in spring when vegetation has greened up.

Mowing Equipment Options: same as second season.

Mowing regime: Timely mowing should continue to control persistent weed problems. The same timing and cutting height parameters listed for the previous season should be followed. This may result in mowing twice during the growing season depending upon the extent of weeds

2. Maintenance Plan

It is anticipated that the maintenance stage of this plan will commence in the spring of 2018. However this commencement will be predicated on the extent of non-desirable vegetation. lf needed the establishment plan strategy as previously outlined will be continued.

Once the maintenance plan begins mow entire field to a height of 4 to 6 inches in spring every other year. During the growing season monitor any weed encroachment and target non-desirable woody and herbaceous plants via mowing, weed whacking or hand cutting. Both Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District and Professor R. Schmidt a Landscape Ecologist and Adjunct Professor at Farmingdale College, NY recommend this strategy as it helps prevent invasion by woody plants, as well as cool season weeds. Mowing less frequently than every other year can result in trees gaining a foothold in the grassland.