Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes
September 15, 2004
Attendees: Jerry Uhrig, Phil Notestine, Linda Spencer-Green
The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.
Deer Management (Phil)
The Woodlands Committee is in total support of the deer management program. The need to restore our woodlands is urgent, and it will not happen unless the deer population is drastically reduced.
This season's deer management program will consist of three phases:
1. Public hunting (UBNJ) - October,
2. Permit hunting - most of November,
3. Culling - Feeding stations in November, culling Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar
Public hunting will be done by New Jersey licensed bowhunters certified by United Bowhunters of New Jersey (UBNJ). This hunting will last from October 2 to October 31.
Hunting in November is by permit only. These will be UBNJ certified bowhunters who apply for the additional limited number of permits. November is also the month when the professional deer management company, Deer Management Systems (DMS) will set up feeding stations used in their culling activity, which begins in December and runs through March. It is understood that there will have to be coordination between permit hunting and DMS feeding stations, i.e., no hunting near feeding stations.
My wife, Lynn, and I worked several hours in Richard Wilcox Park removing bittersweet and winged euonymous. It appears that for the larger shrubs, the job can be reasonably organized into four tasks: identification and marking, cutting, removal, and stump treatment. Identification and marking, where it is needed, is a task that can be done separately from the cutting and removal. For cutting, we used a FISKARS trimmer, loppers and a pruning saw. We cut but did not remove the bittersweet since it is typically wrapped around a tree many times. The winged euonymous made excellent material for blocking unused trails, adding to the material already piled there. We also left piles for cover for small animals. We treated the stumps with Round-Up as recommended by the NRCS botanist. Smaller shrubs can sometimes be pulled out with a Weed Wrench (a tool specifically designed for this purpose). This is a job which volunteers with minimal training could do, at least for the bittersweet, euonymous, barberry, and privet.
Volunteers can probably manage smaller specimens of ailanthus, as well. But professional help would be needed for the larger trees. The volunteer work on the shrubs should be pursued relatively soon. Fall is the best time for treating the stumps. In the spring, we should focus the effort on garlic mustard as soon as it appears. We need to plan an education program about it. It appears that the plant, a relative of watercress, was brought from Europe for culinary reasons. We do have some recipes and have done some limited testing. But early spring appears to be a better time for this. Aside from the large ailanthus trees, the other problem that might require some professional assistance is the dense thicket of Japanese honeysuckle in the bottomlands of Richard Wilcox Park. I suggested we defer this part of the project until next year at least.
A new invasive problem emerged this year as two fairly dense stands of purple loosestrife were found along the shore of Sunset Lake. This invasive species can be very aggressive and easily dominate any habitat where it takes hold. Hopefully, future appearances will be minimal as a result of the prompt action taken by the Borough personnel.
We can try to contain the spread of invasives through a combination of education, volunteer projects, and limited use of Borough resources, as with the purple loosestrife at Sunset Lake. At least this might stabilize the invasives problem while we search for support funding for projects such as removal of the large ailanthus trees. Recall that in the June Status Report we stated that control of invasives "will require patient and persistent effort because many species have seeds that remain viable for years." Over the longer term, as we learn more about the problem, we should expect that our strategy will evolve.
Sudden Oak Death Update (Jerry)
We have a quickly growing file on this problem. Since our last report, there has been a confirmed oak death in Eastern Pennsylvania, contracted from a bonsai camellia. The fungus has been reportedly found on Long Island. And the original shipment of infected camellias has reached 16 states, up from the 10 reported earlier. We have got to become as vigilant as we can be about this disease. The current state of scientific knowledge seems to be that the genome has been mapped but that they do not expect this to lead to a practical treatment for another 10 years. Dr. van Clef at The Nature Conservancy recommended that we be sure that our forester is knowledgeable about this problem so that he can alert us to any imminent danger.
Hemlock Update (Jerry)
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit a very important stand of old growth eastern Hemlock located in Tuscarora State forest in Northcentral Pennsylvania. This area consists of 120 acres of virgin hemlock in a narrow ravine about one and one-half miles long. It was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1973.
My impression of the hemlocks was that they were in fair shape at present. But in a few years the area could become another Valhalla Glen (a wasteland of dead hemlocks near Pyramid Mountain County Park). So I contacted the local forester at Tuscarora State Forest. The exchange follows:
I am chairman of the Woodlands Committee in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. One of our concerns is the prognosis for our hemlocks. We have lost most of them by now. Most other significant hemlock stands in New Jersey have met the same fate.
Since Tuscarora State forest has probably the most significant stands of eastern hemlock to be found anywhere, I was wondering how these trees might be faring. I visited the grove very briefly several months ago and noticed that the woolly adelgid was a factor in your forest. But I did not have the time for an in-depth discussion with a forester.
Thank you for whatever information you can provide.
Jerome L. Uhrig, PhD.
Chairman, Mountain Lakes Woodlands Committee
Mountain Lakes, New Jersey
Dear Dr. Uhrig;
I will try to give you some of my observations. Please take note, however, that every theory and prognosis we have guessed so far has turned out to be pitifully wrong with the exception that "The insect and the damage are highly variable". I believe that we must keep in mind that trees face many stresses, many of which we do not routinely observe. The cumulative effect of these stressors is often far greater that any one stress. In the case of our hemlocks in this area we have had poor soils, two years of severe drought, and mild winters plus enough hemlock to allow for very rapid spread of the insect. I have observed that in some areas hemlocks appear healthy this year (after two years of abundant rainfall and cold winters). However in many other areas the hemlocks are dead and dying. We have discussed all sorts of hypothesis to explain this but the only axiom so far is "It is highly variable". We have experimented with several insecticide treatments. Any effects have been masked by that frustrating variability, and the recent recovery that we guess is due to increased rainfall and cold winters. I say "cold winters" but it may be snow and ice, freeze/thaw cycles etc. that have more effect on the adelgid populations than low temperatures. I do not know. Right now I am guessing that large old trees are more susceptible than small saplings, and they are also more difficult to treat successfully with pesticides, even systemic ones. I think the best hope is for the establishment of biological controls such as predatory beetles that will hopefully keep adelgid populations below the threshold that will cause tree mortality. That day is probably several years away at best. I do not know what type of setting you have in Mountain Lakes, but one strategy we have contemplated is to try to preserve small selected stands in strategic locations with insecticide treatment and at the same time trying to establish introduced predatory beetles nearby in hopes that we can keep some scattered hemlock groves alive until the biologicals can exert some control.
If you would like to discuss the adelgid situation in more detail I recommend talking to Alan Sior (717-536-3961) (email@example.com). He is not here today but he is the Area Pest Management Specialist for the Bureau of Forestry and is the best expert we have in the Bureau. He is in close contact with experts from New Jersey, Connecticut and Virginia, et. al.
Good luck. Please let me know if you find anything that works.
Forest Assistant Manager
Tuscarora State Forest
RR 1, Box 486
Blain, PA 17006
What I conclude from this exchange is that even the experts have much to learn about this problem. We will have to continue to try to learn all we can and see if we can find some way to save our surviving trees.
Forester Tasking (Jerry)
During a discussion of Sudden Oak Death with Mike van Clef of The Nature Conservancy, I asked what would be the most practical way to protect our woodlands at the present time. He said that we should be sure that our town forester is knowledgeable about not only this threat but three others currently active, as well. The list Dr. van Clef gave me is the following:
1. Sudden Oak Death
2. Wooly adelgid
3. Asian longhorn beetle, see http://www.uvm.edu/albeetle/
4. Emerald ash borer, see http://www.emeraldashborer.info/
The first two we have already discussed. Asian longhorn beetle was found in Jersey
City a few years ago and eradicated. Recently, it has been found in Woodbridge, Carteret, and Rahway. This beetle attacks maple, ash, horsechestnut, birch, poplar, and willow, among others. Infected trees must be disposed of with care by trained personnel.
The Emerald ash borer was found in southeastern Michigan in the summer of 2002. This small green beetle has destroyed 6 million ash trees to date in that part of Michigan. An exotic pest previously unknown in North America, it has spread to adjacent parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Windsor, Ontario. USDA has quarantined 13 counties in southeastern Michigan. In 2003 infected stock was discovered at a nursery in Maryland. We have been advised to be vigilant.
Input to Council for budget
It appears at this point that the best use of our budgetary resources would be to focus on the monitoring program rather than invasives removal. One reasonable approach to monitoring for the four pests cited above would be to consult with the forester used by the Shade Tree Commission to determine how to address this problem. It is likely that we will have to gain the expertise to do the bulk of the monitoring ourselves and call in an expert when we think something needs attention or confirmation.
King of Kings property
This report was given to the committee on an information only basis. Under the current plans, this woodland would not be covered under the Woodlands Committee mission statement, since the property would not be Borough-owned. It would be owned by the Mountain Lakes Land Conservancy. Nevertheless, it is adjacent to Borough woodlands so that many of the management issues would be the same and could be dealt with, at least informally, on a voluntary basis without expenditure of Borough resources. The tract consists of 8 acres, which is bounded on one side by Borough parkland and the townhouse development and on the other by a ravine cut by the stream that drains from Mountain Lake. Its geological significance lies in the fact that it occurs at the boundary of the Highlands and the Piedmont. A large glacial erratic adds interest to the site. The tract appears to have little in the way of invasive species. Volunteers could do whatever removal was needed. There is evidence of deer browse but deer management in adjacent Borough woodlands should ameliorate the problem here as well.