Four teenagers are bent over pulling mugwort from the ground, there is a large patch in front of them obscuring half their bodies' from view.

Eco-Leadership Corps members work to restore Oneida Sanctuary in Greenwich, CT. Photo: Christian Alexander/Audubon
Eco-Leadership Corps members work to restore Oneida Sanctuary in Greenwich, CT. Photo: Christian Alexander/Audubon

Greenwich Audubon Center

Mugwort Banished, Trails Created to Bring Oneida Sanctuary to Life

Article written by Eco-Leadership Corps member Junell Sutton.

With no prior experience working in gardens, with hand tools, or in land management, this summer’s Greenwich Audubon Center Eco Leadership Corps of high school students dove right in to restore the Oneida Sanctuary’s salt marsh.

Located in the back of the Bruce Park Playground, the land was used as a landfill up until the mid-1970s, when it was donated by a group of developers from the Indian Harbor Company to restore the habitat for wildlife species in the area; mainly birds that thrive in salt marshes.

Restoring this land, in general, was dire for the community, mainly because these ecosystems play a vital role in contributing to the health of surrounding areas. Wetland salt marshes filter runoff and excess nutrients to improve water quality and provide habitats for a variety of birds, fish, and plants.

Our group worked tirelessly on removing large quantities of invasive plants (primarily mugwort and Phragmites), creating a gravel trail, designing signage, and coordinating community awareness. 

Before the restoration. Photo: Christian Alexander/Audubon
After the restoration. Photo: Christian Alexander/Audubon

“At the end of each day, and especially by the end of the program, every intern expressed a sense of pride and accomplishment on the amount of work they were able to complete, and the before and after images taken cemented their confidence in the work they conducted,” said our program coordinator, Christian Alexander.

With this being my first time working at a wetland conservation facility, I was unaware of how much restoration could do for both the animals who live in the area and the surrounding communities. Being part of the change that you want to see and advocate for in the world means more than simple words do. 

Today, you could easily walk across the path and read all about the site (located in-between Indian Harbor) while enjoying a nice view of the space that provides important habitat to migratory birds, such as the Great Egret.

“I am thrilled to say that we have base funding to keep the Eco Leadership Corps going for two more summers, and we hope to continue this program far into the future,” added Christian. 

You can support the great work happening at the Greenwich Audubon Center here.

How you can help, right now