Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes

November 19,2003


Attendees: Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Linda Spencer-Green, Patie Graham, Jerry Uhrig

Guests: Susan Marshall


First on the agenda were introductions and getting acquainted.  It turns out that we come from across the country, east (Patie, Butler, NJ), midwest (Martha, Chicago area), and far west (Linda, Seattle). Jerry neglected to mention it but he is from Pittsburgh. This broad geographic perspective should prove to be valuable going forward. Martha related one particularly poignant scene at O'Hare airport where presumably they could not possibly have a deer problem. Actually they do. Out between the highways and runways, fenced in from both hazards, a herd of deer can be seen. They stand and they watch. And we wonder how this has come to be. When you see wild creatures in such an inhospitable situation, it is reasonable to assume that somewhere in the area there are (or used to be) mismanaged woodlands. Hopefully, our committee can help shed some light on these issues and find a balance, as Martha suggests.


Two administrative matters: minutes compiled cooperatively; reference map obtained from Gary Webb by Jerry.


We also spoke briefly about invasive exotic species. Susan suggested that we could avoid some confusion by using the technical names in our lists, as Richard Radis has done in his report. It was also suggested that perhaps someone from a garden club could give a talk on invasives. (There was an excellent exhibit at last year's garden club plant sale.)


We reviewed some of the previous major threats to our woodlands and how they were countered. In the early 1970s the Tourne Reservoir was stopped by a small group of able and determined citizens. Copies of their report can be found in the Environmental Commission library. Subsequently, the gypsy moths threatened the destruction of our oaks, primarily white oaks. They were eventually brought under control and a balance restored by introduction of predators.


Currently our hemlocks are being threatened by woolly adelgids. The future of this species in the wild in our area is in question. Experimental predators have been introduced in some areas (Adams Creek in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area).


And of course a major threat to our woodland habitats as we know them is the burgeoning deer population. This threatens ultimately all four layers of our forests and with them the other species that depend on the habitat.

We discussed our mission statement. Martha suggested that we use the term "natural balance" in the paragraph on the health of the woodlands. (Jerry will fix it and circulate for review.) The plan is to do the tasks in the mission statement in order. The first task is to evaluate the current conditions of the woodlands. As we proceed, we need to be as complete and critical as possible, learning as we go. We should review what we have in hand and then see where the holes might be. So initially this should be a primarily a paper study until we figure out what field work is needed. We will divide up the woodlands into four categories and each take one.


Wilcox and contiguous woodlands - Martha

Halsey Frederick - Phil

Small lots - Linda

Other large areas - Patie


Resources identified initially are:


League of Women Voters Consensus (in packet)

1995 Woodlands Study (in packet)

Peterson Guide to Eastern Forests (excerpt in packet)

Radis Report (Borough website)

Tourne Coalition Report (EC library)

EAC Report on Tourne (EC library)

Emilie K. Hammond Wildflower Trail in Tourne (fenced for 5 years)

People (Marianne Wilson, Rob Jennings, Richard Radis, Emile DeVito, John and Carol Knapp from Morris Highlands Audubon, et. al.)

Numerous other sources to be identified


As Susan was leaving, we noted that Brian Marshall is one of those very competent bird observers who can identify species by sound. This could prove to be very useful in determining which species we have. Birds can be very helpful indicators of the health of a woodland habitat.