Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes

May 19, 2004


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


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.






Martha brought the poster that she and Linda made that gives an overview of the Woodlands Committee goals.  This poster was displayed at the Garden Club’s annual Plant Sale on the 8th of May to bring additional awareness to gardeners of the damage from invasive plants.  There was a hand-out that had the Woodlands’ mission statement on it and on the other side was the list of invasive plants that the League of Women Voters had included in their presentation to the Borough Council on the Woodlands. The other hand out was a sign-up sheet for volunteers to assist us in collecting inventory data (trees, birds, etc.).  While Martha was there, a woman approached her and inquired about the possibility of removing pachysandra patches from the woods behind her house.  Although that plant is not on the list of invasive species it was decided that it would be all right to remove it based on conversations at Woodlands meetings regarding the plant.   Linda was at the Plant Sale for the entire morning and told Martha that although no one signed up for working with us, Sue Marshall said that her husband would be able to help us with the bird identification process.  Martha will call her and tell her that her husband can do it at his own leisure without anyone of us with him.  He can just report his findings to us.


Martha also suggested that we have a table at the Mountain Lakes Day event this coming Memorial Day Weekend.  Patie said to contact Kelly Thompson who is in charge of the event to see if there is a charge for booth space.  Patie said that we might also be able to share space with the League of Women Voters booth.  Woodlands might want to make up a list of plants that are invasive and invite people to remove them from the woodlands, e.g., pachysandra, periwinkle, privet, Japanese honeysuckle, barberry both Japanese and European, bittersweet, English ivy, garlic mustard, tree of heaven.




Jerry gave two reports on recent visits to woodlands outside our immediate area, in North Carolina and in Sussex County. They provide some helpful perspective. Written reports are attached.


Borough Lots


Linda has been investigating a particularly wet borough lot between Melrose and Kenilworth (mentioned in April minutes). Since Linda was not present at the meeting, we did not get an update. But Phil did express concern about Mosquito Commission spraying vernal pools during the critical amphibian hatching time. There is probably a need for more coordination of such activities. 


Martha also mentioned that she wondered about a pool near her house. For the past two years it has suddenly changed color from brown to florescent green. She doesn’t understand what would make it change after all these years. Martha and Jerry visited the pool on June 3. The green weed is duckweed, a common pondweed. It is likely that a critical limiting nutrient condition has changed. Further investigation is needed.






Culling: Phil reported that the Environmental Commission will conduct another town wide survey to gather information from the residents and also to update the residents as to the results of the deer culling.  There will also be another aerial survey this coming late fall/winter.  People have requested culling to take place on their private property; one such request is from 181 Boulevard. Phil also suggested that the Woodlands Committee should probably take the initiative on culling this year. Jerry agreed that this would be appropriate.


Patie mentioned that although her arborvitae appeared to look fine during the winter, they now show signs of serious deer browsing, “like lollipops now”.  Martha said that she has not had the spring browsing of her daylilies this year and that there are fewer sightings of deer in the woods.


Immunocontraception:  Martha shared with the committee a packet that she received from the Humane Society of the United States, a videotape, a report, and a cover letter.  Although the video presented the older approach that was used on Fire Island NY and at the NIST in Md., which is the one-year shot, the letter gave an e-mail address info@immunovaccine.com to contact the SPAY VAC program which is the 3 year shot.  Or better yet, just go to their website www.immunovaccine.com. Martha again explained that the Humane Society is doing research on wildlife birth control, and that there is grant money available through a number of groups.  When she spoke with the people from SPAY VAC they informed her of these funding programs. The catch is that ‘culling’ cannot be part of the program when birth control is included.  However, culling can be done prior to the birth control phases and the funding is still available.  We might want to keep this in mind for the future.  Information on this subject can be found in the minutes of the December, January, and March meetings.


Woodlands Walks 


Jerry handed out a form that can be used for taking sample site information: very simple and easily adapted to personal use and depth of information (Attachment 3).


On May 15, Jerry and Linda went for an early Saturday morning walk at Birchwood.  They discussed the limitations of various sampling strategies. It was evident that the one-meter circles suggested by The Nature Conservancy are really not appropriate for larger trees and shrubs. This approach will work best for herbs, seedlings, and saplings. The 50-meter linear sampling described at the Franklin Township Workshop (March minutes) will be more useful for inventory of the larger flora. They were surprised to hear a wood frog at the vernal pool next to Birchwood (very late in the season). Unfortunately, they also saw garlic mustard everywhere (alas, not surprising). 


Saturday afternoon, Phil and Jerry walked the woods in Phil’s area of town (Yorke Road).  Jerry was happily surprised to see the woods in such great shape.  On their walk they saw a healthy patch of Canada Mayflower, a native wildflower, a vernal pond and lots of good understory, especially seedlings. There were also very few invasives. This could be the best patch of woodlands in town.


Status Report for the Council 


The Committee discussed a report that the Woodlands Committee is giving to the Borough Council on June 14.  It will be a status report and recommendations for the remainder of the year. Jerry will make the presentation. All committee members are welcome and encouraged to attend. We should be on the agenda for sometime after 8pm. Each member of the committee was requested to give inputs based on guidelines that Jerry distributed at the meeting (Attachment 4).




1.      Woodlands in North Carolina

2.      Woodlands along the Appalachian Trail on Kittatinny Ridge

3.      A Simple Data Form

4.      Plans for Status Report to Borough Council, June 14


Report to the Mountain Lakes Woodlands Committee

Subject: Woodlands in North Carolina

Author: Jerry Uhrig

Date: May 19, 2004


A visit to Asheville, North Carolina gave me an opportunity to see first-hand what problems they are having and what we might learn from it. My two primary sources of information were conversations with staff at the North Carolina State Arboretum, located just outside Asheville and newspaper articles. Newspapers in that locale appear to give prominence to woodlands affairs. I did not get a chance to visit Mount Mitchell. It would have been interesting to see if there had been any significant recovery since my last visit several years ago.


A visit to the arboretum prompted my first question after noticing that evidence of deer browsing was negligible. Their solution to the deer problem was simple but not cheap. They fenced in the entire arboretum, an area comparable to the Tourne Park, with 10-foot chain-link fence. It's probably not a bad solution for a state facility with funding from at least two major universities, UNC and NC State. It also contains within the grounds a national repository of native azaleas. So they probably also get some federal funding.


However, the azaleas pose another problem, which apparently has not been solved: beavers. Several azaleas had been chewed off at the ground by beavers. Beaver damage is certainly not subtle, as deer browsing can be. They just remove the entire shrub leaving a sharp-pointed stump. Arboretum staff told me that, after all, beavers are just part of the environment. I can appreciate that argument in a place like the Tourne, where there are no national native treasures involved. But my private hunch is that the arboretum beavers have been trapped and transported far away.


The next question came up as a result of a friend who lives near Asheville asking about planting a row of hemlocks as a visual screen. So we asked the hemlock question at the arboretum. We were told that, no, the woolly adelgids were not a problem yet and the scientists were working to keep it that way. We told our friend to hold off planting any hemlocks for a while. An article in the Smoky Mountain News, April 21, confirmed our expectations. The caption was "Scientists, public join forces to save hemlocks." In one area, residents have donated $150,000 to help support a program to release predatory beetles. Another group, the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance, put out the word that it wanted to support a breeding program for predatory beetles, Pseudoscymnus tsugae, at Clemson University and got an "unbelievable number of checks for $250, $500, and $1,000."  Another group, The Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has donated $400,000. They hope to save 30 percent of the hemlocks. If this program fails, they expect the hemlocks will go the way of the American chestnut. Incidentally, the beetle eats only woolly adelgids, so when the adelgids are gone, the beetles die off. At least, that's the theory. Whether the program succeeds or not, it does illustrate that the public can be an important source of funding for a well-presented, properly-motivated program.


The next major story, actually the cover story in the same edition of Smoky Mountain News, had the headline "Vanishing Forests, WNC's woodlands razed to make way for development." The problem is that private forest land that used to be logged for timber and then allowed to grow back is now being developed, much of it for second homes. This land will not be allowed to grow back. So they have a building boom much like the New Jersey Highlands with a lot of the same issues at stake: forest fragmentation, pressures for more services, etc. The stretch of the Little Tennessee River that we paddled on has been acquired by The Nature Conservancy to preserve at least some of the habitat. This area was very much like some of the prettier stretches of the Upper Delaware, except the Delaware does not have any swinging footbridges.


Other obvious problems in some areas around Fontana Lake were tracts of dead pines, victims of a pine borer. This serves as a reminder of the risks of having too little diversity in our woodlands. Another, potentially more serious risk appeared in the Asheville newspaper.


The caption on the front-page article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 27 read "Officials scramble to contain disease that kills oak trees." The disease, known as sudden oak death, has killed tens of thousands of oaks in California. Officials are worried that it could spread to Eastern United States. The problem arose when a shipment of infected camellias was sent from Monrovia Growers, a large nursery in Azusa, California. So far, ten states have found infected plants from the same nursery. The first sign of sudden oak death is a dark, reddish brown sap oozing from the tree trunk. Decaying fungi can be found on the trunks in later stages. Sudden oak death can also affect rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and, of course camellias. In California, the bay laurel spreads the disease to oaks; in Europe, rhododendrons spread it to oaks. The pathogen that causes the disease was only described in 2000. So the problem has only recently been recognized. I have sent an inquiry to the USDA about the problem but have not received an answer. In the meantime, a quote from a forest pathologist in Asheville seems applicable "Until we know we have nothing to worry about, we better act like we have lots to worry about." 

Report to the Mountain Lakes Woodlands Committee

Subject: Woodlands along the Appalachian Trail on Kittatinny Ridge

Author: Jerry Uhrig

Date: May 19, 2004


On Saturday, May 8, I had the opportunity to accompany some friends on a hike along a ten-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail in northwestern New Jersey. The hike started near Fairview Lake, proceeded along Kittatinny Ridge, and ended at Culver Lake. (See map.) The ridge runs northeast in the direction we hiked. We were just east of and well above Tillman Ravine. The views to the west were exceptionally good all the way to the Pocono Plateau. Elevations varied quite a bit over a range from about 900 feet up to nearly 1600 feet.


What we found was that the woodlands along the ridge were in good shape. Hemlocks appeared healthy though not large. We found just one with traces of woolly adelgids. It could be that the cold winter up on the ridge has a much more serious effect on the adelgids than it does down in Tillman Ravine. The high ridge does not look like preferred habitat for the hemlocks, but it is apparently safer for them. The understory appeared healthy. There were lots of wildflowers in bloom. The wild columbine was especially noticeable. Unfortunately, the ticks apparently thrived in the dense understory. We removed many of them over the eight hours we spent on the trail. We stopped at two vernal pools. One, in particular, was teeming with frog tadpoles and unhatched salamander eggs. There was no evidence of deer browsing. And since there were none of the factors that give opportunities to invasive species, we saw none up on the ridge. There were small patches of garlic mustard near where we parked the cars at each end. But this was closer to civilization.

Mountain Lakes Woodlands Committee Data Form (Draft 5/14/4)


Sample Site         ___________

Location (GPS Coordinates??)_________

Data Taken By_________________


Aggregate Measures (counts or where too numerous, use per cent coverage)

          Depth of Duff______

          Herbaceous Plants_______









                   Herbaceous Plants__________






Plans for Status Report to Borough Council, June 14


Structure of Report

            Executive Overview

            Oral presentation with vugraphs and map

            Supporting text


Jerry will put the report together and submit it to the committee and Blair for review as it comes together.


In the meantime, it would be helpful to have:


Inputs from each committee member

You can think primarily in terms of your specific woodland areas but feel free to comment on any issue, which pertains to the entire borough.


            Your view of the current status

                        What have we accomplished to date?

                        What do we know?

                        What do we need to know?

                        What resources might we need going forward?

                        What actions should the council take?

            Choose from any or all of the following formats

                        Grocery lists

                        Stream of consciousness

Don't be concerned about grammar or punctuation. Content and key ideas are what matters.

But if you prefer because it helps you think more clearly, neatly structured and tightly reasoned prose is OK too.