Native flowers in bloom at Marion Lake, a first since Sandy

08/06/2014 8:00 AM |
Native pink flowers, known as hibiscus moscheutos, are in bloom for the first time since Hurricane Sandy.  (Credit: Carrie Miller)

Native pink flowers, known as hibiscus moscheutos, are in bloom for the first time since Superstorm Sandy. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

It’s been nearly two years since Superstorm Sandy set back restoration work at Marion Lake, but native plant species introduced prior to the storm are finally starting to grow back. 

“This is the most beautiful we’ve had it,” said resident Jack Luscher while pointing to native pink flowers, known as hibiscus moscheutos, scattering the water’s edge Tuesday morning.

“These hibiscus are wild and only bloom once a year for a few days,” said his wife Lori, who for years has lead a crusade in hopes of eradicating invasive phragmites from choking the lake of natural flora and scenic views.

For the past eight years, she has led the Marion Lake Restoration Committee in raising funding and finding volunteers to remove the pesky invasive plant, seeing encouraging results by the spring of 2011.

It was then that residents and Steve Marino, a wetlands biologist from upstate, first introduced a number of native plants back into the lake, Mr. Luscher explained.

Residents were able to enjoy their refurbished view for a short time before Sandy hit, causing saltwater from Orient Harbor to mix with the freshwater lake.

At the time, Mr. Marino said the saltwater saturation had stifled many of the newly planted seeds, and was unsure whether they would survive.

The couple said the flowers’ revival is encouraging, but noted that only half of what the group had originally planted seemed to pull through.

Mr. Luscher said the committee plans on removing many of the existing phragmites in September, and are applying for a state Department of Conservation permit to spray the area.

Before the restoration of the lake began eight years ago, the need to remove phagmites at Marion Lake had reached a critical level. The explosion of plants around the bridge threatened to stop the flow of water from one side of the lake to the other, and with no natural connection to Orient Harbor, the lake could become stagnant and polluted.

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A view of Marion Lake before restoration work started in 2006. (Credit: Judy Ahrens, file)

A view of Marion Lake before restoration work started in 2006. (Credit: Judy Ahrens, file)

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