Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes

March 17, 2004


Attendees: Jerry Uhrig, Phil Notestine, Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Blair Wilson


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.


The meeting opened with a brief discussion of how best to keep the council up to date on the work of the Woodlands Committee. We determined that in addition to the planned six-month report in the June/July time frame, it would be helpful to include all members of the Council on distribution for the minutes. Christina Whitaker can take care of it. Jerry will provide her with the minutes after they are approved so that she can distribute them.


We discussed publicity briefly. Jerry mentioned that we do have an allocation of pages in the Borough Home and School Bulletin. Also, Blair noted that in addition to being liaison with the Woodlands Committee, she serves as well for the Website Committee. So there are at least two good options for educating the public about the work and concerns of the Woodlands Committee. Another would be through local garden club plant sales. But someone would have to focus on it to see that things get done.


Another topic briefly touched on was  how we might make the best use of  the expertise of John Linson, who is the Borough’s Aborist and works for the town on a per fee basis.  Sue Marshall, chair of the Shade Tree Committee, should be contacted to see if there is any overview of the health of the trees in town that was done by John Linsen for Shade Tree.  Update: Martha spoke to Sue Marshall Thursday morning and Sue  stated that no such report has been done by John Linsen.  The only report that Sue knew about was the Radis Report, which all members of the Woodlands Committee already have.


Reading Material


The Dying of the Trees (Charles E. Little), The Pandemic in American Forests.  Jerry noted that the book was written by with the general reader in mind, thus it does not have extensive scientific notations.  It encompasses the entire country and the various issues that are being faced, the most common issue is pollution from various sources.  Jerry mentioned that it was difficult to read because of the depressing conditions of the forests.  However, he said that The Once and Future Forest was a positive and practical book that gave you good approaches to view the process of improving the health of the forests.


Grant Application: Invasive Exotic Plant Control Grant


Gary Webb has applied for this state funding, even though Mountain Lakes does not usually rank very high in grant evaluations. It was noted that an NRCS consultant would visit our woodlands and do an evaluation as part of the application process.  Jerry and Gary agreed that the evaluation in itself was worth it even if we do not receive the grant.  We will be including invasive plants in our own survey of the Woodlands.  One of several lists of invasive plants is in the “An Overview of Nonindigenous Plant Species in New Jersey” published by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection February 2004 as per the e-mail sent. This list is helpful because it has been widely reviewed and has some official standing. However, for practical field use an identification guide is still needed.





Franklin Township Environmental Inventory Workshop


The New Jersey Audubon Society is working on a management plan for two separate tracts in Franklin Township, one grassland and one woodland. NJAS biologists held a workshop to train volunteers on February 25; Linda, Martha, and Jerry attended. The purpose was to teach some basic observation skills that would be needed to complete the inventory for such a management plan. We attended to see what we could learn and adapt to our own situation. As an aside, it is worth noting that NJAS has a good sense of the problems faced by New Jersey woodlands habitat as evidenced by the excellent articles appearing in their recent publications (quarterly magazine). One option we might consider is to have them help us develop a management plan. We did not pursue this in our conversations at the workshop. We had hoped to gain an understanding of the techniques they use in an inventory, and the day was quite successful in this regard. We gained valuable insights into requisite skills, tools, and process. We will probably modify/extend the methodology we had been tentatively planning to use based on suggestions from The Nature Conservancy. At a minimum, we will probably switch to metric units and employ some additional sampling strategies. Martha filed an excellent report on the workshop. It is well worth reading.


Vernal Pool Workshop


Jerry Uhrig and Phil Notestine attended a vernal pool workshop conducted by biologists from the DEP Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP). Vernal pools are essential for the survival of certain amphibians, known as the obligate species. The obligates include five species of salamander, one frog, and one toad. There are an additional 21 species of amphibians that rely on vernal pools but not to the extent that the obligates do. These are known as the facultative species. In exchange for learning how to identify these species and analyze vernal pools, volunteers provide the results to state ENSP biologists. So we gain both the expertise and the data that we need for our own woodlands inventory, as well as access to data that ENSP already has on our area.


Lesley Garrison, a Mountain Lakes High School junior attended the workshop and might want to help with the Woodlands Committee work.  She is the daughter of John and Catherine Garrison and will be attending our next meeting in April.




Jerry stated that hemlocks may have a life span of 450 years.  He suggested that we make sure that we include hemlock saplings in some of our Richard Wilcox sample areas. Martha will call the Northern Regional Forester to inquire about the state of the hemlocks.





Phil reported that there was no culling last week due to the windy weather, however, there will one or two more days next week and then that will conclude the culling for the year.  However, he reported that a resident is feeding the deer in the Tourne area of the woodlands.  There was a discussion regarding the need to inform the community that this is counterproductive.  We discussed the possibility of having a Borough ordinance prohibiting the feeding of deer. This would be similar to the rules on geese.


Martha reported that she had received information on sterilization from a resident via e-mail and USPS.  The information concerned three different programs. The first related to deer studies on sterilization that are being done by the U. of Wisconsin-Madison in the town of Highland Park, IL.  This program is very expensive and unrealistic for us to consider.  The program was the Fire Island study.  We have reviewed this program, and is not practical for us because we do not have established boundaries to enclose the deer.  The final study is being done by Penn State U.  Martha will follow up to get additional information.


Blair reported that Freeholder Jack Shreier of Mendham, NJ had contacted the Council asking that they pass a proclamation in favor of sterilization and against killing deer and bear.  The council did not take action on this, but Blair suggested that Martha contact him to get more information.


Martha suggested that we might want to created a controlled area of fencing within Richard Wilcox Park for study and demonstration purposes.  There was a discussion about using volunteers and students to help with this if we decide to pursue it.


Woodlands Survey Sheet


We went over the worksheet and made additions to the species.  It is too long to include here.

Martha will make the changes and add to it the Invasive plant list and send it to everyone later.