Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes


December 17, 2003


Attendees: Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Linda Spencer-Green, Phil Notestine, George Jackson, Jerry Uhrig


Administrative matters: minutes reviewed and approved; copies of Eastern Woodlands passed out; woodlands assignments were adjusted on the reference map (Phil took some areas near his home.)


We discussed opportunities for support from the Nature Conservancy because of their extensive experience in habitat restoration and maintenance. Our contact is Dr. Mike Van Clef, Director of the Skylands Office. We discussed one of their publications, "Guide to Preserves and Projects in New Jersey." It contains information on Conservancy projects throughout the state including two local sites, Turkey Mountain and Valhalla Hemlock Glen. It should provide valuable information and serve as a guide for how we might use the Nature Conservancy as a resource. Jerry will get copies for everyone. Also, a list of Conservancy technical experts obtained from their web site was distributed at the meeting.


Another support opportunity is the restoration of the Lake Denmark area of Picatinny Arsenal, which is to be donated to the State for Green Acres. Rutgers is working with Picatinny staff to determine how to undertake the restoration. Aspects of it could be helpful to us in managing our own woodlands. Lead contamination is one issue that they should be able to give us some practical advice about. A list of Rutgers specialists working with Picatinny was distributed at the meeting. 


Phil brought two excellent articles: one on the problem of earthworms in forests and one on a deer browse study at the Burnham Brook Preserve in Connecticut.


The problem with earthworms derives from the fact that after the last ice age 10,000 years ago there were no earthworms in the areas covered by the ice. So those forests evolved for thousands of years without them until they were brought by the early settlers. The question we have to ask is whether that argument applies in our area because we are in the terminal moraine. If it does, the problem that the earthworms cause is that they prematurely destroy the duff layer on the forest floor. Many species of plants, birds and animals depend on it.


The deer browse study is an excellent example of the kind of material we expect to obtain through contacts with the Nature Conservancy. It deserves careful study. Dr. Emile DeVito has been conducting similar studies in New Jersey. At this point our best estimates of regeneration rates will come from such studies.