Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes

June 16, 2004


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


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.






Phil reported that the Environmental Commission does not see the need to do a second survey of the community; however, they are in support of the second deer count for this upcoming year.  Phil has had numerous people tell him of their support for the culling and that they have noticed a reduction in the population.  Phil explained that this is partly due to the fact that during the late spring, deer are less likely to be seen due to various factors: return of dense foliage hides them from sight and during this time the does are birthing and traveling smaller distances.  The life span of a deer is 7 years and female become fertile within the first year of life.  During the summer the deer community divides into two separate groups: families (does and fawns) and bucks.   Phil’s opinion is that Woodlands should do a town wide survey even if a small group voices concerns. 


Phil will again contact the bow hunters from Mendham.  It is likely to be necessary to again allow hunting in our woodlands in order to get approval of our culling permit. Phil feels that bow hunting can be done safely.  He is very much against having individuals hunting with firearms in the woods.   He also recommends that we post permanent signs stating “No Hunting Allowed Without a Permit”.  The Tourne County Park does have such signs posted. 


Trail Abuse


Phil noted that he has seen and spoken with bikers on the trails that are “No Bike” trails and has spoken to them.  The biker’s body language conveyed an attitude of defiance to the trail rules.  Other members of the community have also seen bikers on the walking paths.  Jerry noted that the signs and gates have been vandalized throughout the woodlands and need to be restored. Also, the bike trails on the posted trail map at Birchwood have become badly faded from the sun. They should be redrawn to make it clear where the bikers may go.


Status Report for the Council


Jerry reported that on Monday June 14, 2004, he presented to the council the Woodlands Status report.  There were approximately 10-15 members of the public in attendance. Jerry emphasized that at this time Woodlands sees two issues as priority: Deer Management and Control of Invasive Plants. Jerry also mentioned the Sudden Oak Death that has been found in California and could become a national problem as a result of an infected shipment of camellias from the Monrovia Growers of Azusa, California.  These plants were shipped to ten states. We are not sure whether New Jersey was among them or not.  At this time there are no known oaks infected in our area but we need to keep track of this.




Correspondence:  Jerry received a letter from the PNC BANK ( the local branch is located at the corner of Boulevard and Route 46) stating that the bank is interested in doing volunteer work within our community.  Jerry called to speak with the manager, however the manager was not there, thus he explained to the person on the phone that the Woodlands committee was looking for volunteers to help remove invasive plants from our woodlands.  The response was that this particular individual was hoping for an opportunity to read books to children.  Martha suggested that we contact the SLAP (Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program) to see if they could be used in this type of situation.




Martha reported that the Mountain Lakes Day event on Memorial Day was very successful.  A number of people approached and took the flyers and said that they were interested in helping.  The more that we can get the public to become aware of the conditions of the woodlands, the better.


The Woodlands Committee needs to have a website designed for the town to keep abreast of these types of situations and to be able to post our information. Phil mentioned that Lesley Garrison who is a high school student in Mountain Lakes will join us to help.  Her mom, Kathy, is a website designer.   Martha was told that there are students in the 10th Grade who need to complete community service requirements that we could use to create a website.


Data Gathering


Jerry met with Troy Ettel and Eric Stiles of New Jersey Audubon at the Negri-Nepote-Leni Trail in Franklin Township to inventory birds. The meeting took place at 6:30am on Wednesday, June 9.  This land had been farmland and was purchased by the township to preserve the natural grasslands habitat.  It is now being inventoried as part of a comprehensive stewardship plan being developed by New Jersey Audubon.  Jerry showed the data sheets and master list of the birds.  The approach was to walk the trail and mark on the map locations of wildlife sightings, in this case birds.  Then on the data sheet report the location and the species sighted.  A new map is used every time the person walks the lands and then the sightings are compared so that a base line can be established and possible territories of species determined.  Also, a vernal pool is in the planning stages so that such a habitat can be showcased to the community.


Woodlands Walks


Friday morning June11, 2004, Jerry, Linda, Martha, and Patty and her son walked the trail in Richard Wilcox Park that was hiked by Jerry Uhrig on April 9 in the company of  NRCS botanists to identify major invasive species.  The trail begins behind the storage building at Birchwood and continues along the high ground above the lake, past the well house at the back of the lake, along the trail into the woods and eventually looping back to Birchwood.  Linda took notes and Martha took digital pictures of various areas.  Martha will send these pictures to Jerry with the notes attached in the near future.  It was noted that there are poison ivy vines much too close to the trail for the safety of the hikers.  As a mater of fact, as you approach the trail the tree that is so close that you could brush your hand against it as you walked by was covered in poison ivy.  In spite of the fear that poison ivy invokes in many of us, it is a native plant that provides food for the birds.  A reasonable policy would be to remove poison ivy wherever it might pose a hazard in high-traffic areas but otherwise leave it for the birds. We passed three vernal pools but we did not observe any activity.  We did watch a scarlet tanager for awhile. He seemed to be foraging for food around his likely nest site. The trail passes through one of the most extensive tracts of invasive species in any of our woodlands: Asian bittersweet, winged euonymous, privet, Asian honeysuckle.


Borough Lots


Linda and Jerry looked at the Morris/Lake Drive lots and the Bird Sanctuary, they are both getting cluttered.  Rockaway Terrace has extensive dumping.  These are all overrun with invasive plants.  Phil suggested that what needs to be done is make them neighborhood habitats for wildlife, not people friendly areas.  The question is: are there species that we want to favor over other less desirable ones?  Borough Lots are unique in that they are “EDGE” not “CORE” areas.  A “CORE” area needs to have a 100 meter buffer then the inside becomes the “CORE”.  These lots are much too small for that definition.