Woodlands Committee Meeting Minutes

December 15, 2004


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


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.




Indicator Species - Spicebush


Jerry handed out photos of two separate spicebushes in two locations. The first was located in the fenced-in at the Tourne Wild Flower Trail. This trail has been fenced for about 7 or 8 years thus offering protection from wildlife. The second was a spicebush that was in Wilcox near the chimney site/bridge site and on the side of the trail.  It was pointed out that the protected spicebush has a healthy number of new growths (shoots/canes) however; the spicebush that is on the trail in Wilcox has no new growth. It has all been browsed to the ground level. This gives a clear indication of overbrowsing.  There was another spicebush farther back from the trail that did show some new growth (shoots/canes). Jerry said that if this were Jockey Hollow, where the deer situation is more severe, neither spicebush would have any new growth. Jerry proposed that this might be one type of information we want to include in the ECO-Hike. It is a simple indicator of deer browse, and spicebush is fairly common throughout our woodlands.


ECO-Hike Project


Jerry recently visited the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) where they have a number of interpretive trails. They provide individual guide booklets for each trail. Jerry gave a set of PEEC trail guides to Phil and passed out an excerpt to everyone. Using the PEEC trails as examples, Jerry compiled some ideas for stations on the ECO-Hike:


Ideas for ECO-Hike Stations in Halsey Frederick Park


  1. Replanting of trees at edge of fields
  2. Ailanthus
  3. Vernal pool
  4. Lichen/Moss
  5. Spicebush (indicator)
  6. A dead tree (woodpeckers, etc.)
  7. The Old Oak
  8. Hemlocks (are there any down there?)


Phil suggested that we should do a historical perspective of the land site so that visitors can more readily appreciate the time required to grow a forest.  This would be a good candidate for the first station on the trail. Phil mentioned that the area that we live in is called the Newark Bight- it is the geological name of the area.  The glaciers once covered this area, and there is ample evidence of it throughout the town.


It is likely that we would probably use a numbering system for the stations along the trail, which can then be correlated with discussion paragraphs in a guide to be made available on the Borough website. Phil suggested that in addition it would be helpful to label a few specimen trees and shrubs along the trail for general information.


It is expected that this project will involve a consortium of committees: Environmental (Laurel Durenberger), Trails (Tom Carr), and Woodlands, at a minimum. Martha suggested that the Senior Citizens might be interested in participating. Another good local source of ideas and material are the interpretive stations being developed for the Tourne Wildflower Trail. The Mountain Lakes ECO-Trail is to be located in Halsey Frederick Park, across from the high school. The plan is to inaugurate the trail on Earth Day with guided tours.


Linda has offered to contact the Seattle Parks Department to get information on how they do their tours. 


Phil suggested that we all gather together one day for a walk to see what some interesting stations might be and how we might sequence through them. 


Website Threat Priorities


The Woodlands Committee website is up and running http://www.mtnlakes.org/Borough/Woodlands/Whome.htm. Basic information about our work and concerns is available for review by any interested citizen. The next order of business is to make it more usable and accessible. The first step in this effort is to provide links to resources from each of the 14 items in our Woodlands Threat List:


Threat Priorities (revised November 04)

(Highest first)


  1. Deer
  2. Invasives
  3. Sudden Oak Death
  4. Bacterial Leaf Scorch
  5. Asian Long-horned Beetle
  6. Emerald Ash Borer
  7. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  8. Earthworms
  9. Runoff, flooding, erosion
  10. Fragmentation
  11. Contaminants
  12. Gypsy moths
  13. Dutch elm disease
  14. Chestnut blight


We need for each item a page of introductory text and links to pertinent information sites for each item. To get started, we divided up the first eight items as follows:


Phil and Martha will do the Deer control/contraception, item 1

Martha and Linda and Patty will do the Invasive Plants, item 2

Jerry will do the threats to the trees, items 3-7

Phil will do the earthworms, item 8


Andy Bulfer has agreed to support this effort if we can provide him with the information.


Other Topics and Discussion                                                                                                           

Jeana MacLeod of the Environmental Commission has proposed that Earth Day would also be a good time to introduce our fenced and protected areas, discussed at the November meeting, and to explain their purpose.


We reviewed Martha's photo of the burning bush (winged euonymous) in full autumn color. Autumn is the best time to fully appreciate how much of this invasive shrub grows in our woodlands because the leaves turn a vivid flaming red, hence the common name. This photo would be a good candidate for the Invasives page on our website.


Blair reported that she presented our proposal for a permanent committee at the preceding council meeting. A vote will be taken on it in January.


From the November meeting "Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: Jerry mentioned that there was a report of some healthy hemlocks in the Wawayonda State Park, to the north of Mountain Lakes. He will investigate."


Jerry and Lynn did investigate. Wawayonda does have some great trails. It is not that hard to reach and apparently quite popular. Unfortunately, there were no hemlocks in any better shape that those in the Tourne: not good.



Jerry reported that the Star-Ledger had an excellent review article on the Asian Longhorned Beetle problem:


Anatomy of an alien (insect) invasion

Hungry stowaways threaten N.J. trees

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Star-Ledger Staff

Ingram Carner first saw the odd-looking insect in August 1996.

The black beetle with white spots and a long antennae was crawling out of a hole in a maple tree Carner planted in his Brooklyn townhouse development.

Alarmed, he sketched a picture of the insect and tried to contact bug experts.

But no one wanted to talk to him or come see the bug.

"They thought I was crazy," said Carner, 83.

Fast forward to 2004.

Donald Base was edging grass around the trees in his Carteret yard in August when he saw a strange bug emerge from a hole in a silver maple.

He called the state Department of Agriculture, which responded immediately by setting up a square-mile quarantine. Within days, tree climbers examined every tree within a mile of Base's property and found 410 infested trees.

As a precaution, they are cutting down 4,000 trees in Carteret, Woodbridge, Linden and Rahway and incinerating them.

This rapid response, and subsequent defoliation and burning, shows how much scientists and government officials have come to fear the dreaded Asian longhorned beetle.

They now know the bug kills trees by eating them from the inside out. They now know the species is invasive and can chew up whole forests of poplar, maple, willow, plum and pear trees, and can remain in wood long after trees are cut down.

They now know the beetle, named the Asian longhorn by a Cornell University scientist, came to the United States as a stowaway in wood pallets from China and has since been found in New York and New Jersey and around Chicago and Toronto.

They fear if the Asian longhorned beetle is not stopped, it could eat its way through the nation's hardwood forests, killing an untold number of trees.

"In North Jersey, 70 percent of all of the trees are maples. If we don't stop this beetle, they would be dead. That's just New Jersey," said Barry Emens, director of the New Jersey Asian Longhorn Beetle Eradication Project for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "It'll have a major impact on the composition of all of our forested areas in the United States as well where maples are the most common trees."

The beetle is such a threat the federal government has allocated $44.7 million to eradicate it, including $11.6 million for New Jersey.

But stopping the beetle won't be easy.

It has no natural predators, can not be killed by existing pesticides, and worse still, it can fly, allowing it to tree-hop distances up to a half-mile.


When Carner first saw the beetle in 1996, it had been feasting on trees -- and spreading -- in Brooklyn for at least a year, scientists believe.

Carner contacted the New York Parks Department, the city's environmental department, the National Arbor Foundation and universities all over the East Coast.

He said he finally got an employee from the parks department to visit the nine townhouses he built on McGinnis Boulevard in Greenpoint that September, three months after his discovery. Carner and the employee, Harry Rothar, camped out and waited and waited with no sign of the bug. Just as Rothar was getting into his car to leave, a beetle emerged.

"He couldn't believe it," Carner said. "He became all excited."

The parks department contacted Carolyn Kass, an entomologist at Cornell University, who didn't recognize the bug. She showed it to her colleague, E. Richard Hoebeke, curator for the Cornell Entomology Collection.

Hoebeke knew the bug wasn't native to North America. He suspected it was Asian and sent specimens to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, which has one of the world's largest collection of Asian beetles. Both museums verified the species was from China.

"No one here was aware of what was happening in China," said Hoebeke, who named the bug. "We had no knowledge of this bug, and that was a recipe for disaster."

With little to guide them, scientists advised government officials to cut down the infested trees. They also recommended a quarantine around Carner's neighborhood that prohibited anyone from moving wood, logs, branches or dead trees outside the zone.

But before officials imposed the quarantine, a tree service had cut down a dead tree, chopped it up, and took the wood chips to Long Island. Within a short time, the infestation spread to Amityville and surrounding towns.

Scientists believe the beetles that invaded Brooklyn came from pallets made in China. The pallets were used to ship Chinese-made sewer pipes to Greenpoint in 1995.

The pallets were left on the streets by work crews. Once the larvae inside the pallets matured into adults, they flew out looking for trees.


The Asian longhorned beetle is most commonly found in north central China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

The Chinese government inadvertently helped spread the beetle in the mid-1990s when it attempted to reforest an area near the Gobi desert with poplar trees, said Michael Bohne, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service who has studied the bug in its native habitat.

"As a result, the beetle population exploded," Bohne said.

It got so bad, Bohne said, the government issued an order for citizens to collect the beetles and paid for each one turned in.

"I remember kids running down the street with Coke bottles filled with beetles. They manually removed them. But the infestation was so heavy there was nothing they could do. They had acres of dead and dying trees."

The Chinese government then decided to chop down infested trees. But the wood was used for pallets and shipped off to the United States, Canada and Europe, which has also suffered a beetle infestation.

In 1998, the U.S. government banned any woodpacking from entering the country -- especially coming from Asia -- unless it was heat treated or treated with methyl bromide, both methods known to kill eggs and larvae. U.S. inspectors now routinely travel to China to make sure the wood is being treated.

"They had to provide certifications with the pallets," said Emens, the federal agriculture department expert.


In the eight years since the beetle was first spotted, scientists have learned to be aggressive to stop the bug.

It's not enough to just take down the infested trees, as they first did in Brooklyn, but any trees that could be host to the beetle within a certain radius of the infestation.

Officials also can spray noninfested trees outside the radius with Merit, the trade name for imidacloprid, a pesticide.

"Merit is a preventative treatment, but not a cure-all," Emens said. "When we take down the trees in the quarantine area, we apply it to the area outside the quarantine. It's effective in protecting the outside bark. But once the beetle gets into the heartwood of the tree, nothing we have can kill it."

Even after trees have been removed, it's no guarantee beetles won't re-emerge.

Officials in New York are still finding infested trees within the 132-square mile quarantine area, although the number decreases every year. More than 2,500 trees in the city have been destroyed -- including some in Central Park.

In Jersey City, more than 100 trees were found to be infested and more than 400 were cut down in 2003. The bug has not been seen in the city since, but officials take no chances. Every year until 2008, they will climb all of the trees within a mile of the original area, just to make sure the beetle is truly gone.

Perhaps the most important lesson, officials said, is a well-informed public.

"It is residents of these communities that found the infestations, whether it's in New York, Chicago or New Jersey," Emens said. "Officials can only respond. Members of the public are the ones who have to be alert and report anything they see. And they have to know what they are looking for. That's where we come in."

Sue Epstein covers Middlesex County. She can be reached at (732) 404-8080 or at sepstein@starledger.com.

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