Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

January 19, 2005


Attendees: Jerry Uhrig, Phil Notestine, Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Linda Spencer-Green, Cliff Miles, Bob Dewing


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.




Permanent Status


Jerry informed us that the Council had voted to make the Committee permanent. Since our status is changing, it is a good time to review our name and mission to see if any adjustments should be made. He mentioned two possible names, Woodlands Committee or Woodlands Management Committee, and asked for any other suggestions. We chose Woodlands Management Committee. The reason for this name, which had been suggested by Richard Urankar, was to make it clear that our role with respect to the woodlands was similar to the role that the Lakes Management Committee has with regard to the lakes. The Mission Statement seems to be still appropriate as it stands so we did not make any changes.  The one new document we need is a Charter. Jerry and Patie Graham are in the process of collecting charters for other relevant bodies in the Borough to be sure that our charter relates to them in a meaningful, constructive manner.


It was decided that we would expand our committee to seven members. Two individuals who had expressed interest in helping out attended the meeting. Bob Dewing is a mining engineer whose family has a long history in the tree business in England. He has been a resident of Mountain Lakes for 6 years and is active in the Boy Scouts. Cliff Miles has a degree in wildlife biology and has a good knowledge of the ecology of the Northeast. He has worked for US Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service and is currently employed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture. He has been a point man in dealing with emerging threats to our trees, such as Sudden Oak Death and the Asian Longhorned Beetle. He has lived in town for 14 years and, by marriage, much longer since he is Jay Eveleth's son-in-law. Both impressive resumes indeed. We were all very grateful for their interest and support.




Cliff mentioned a few additional sites with ailanthus trees that we did not know about. One was the Fliflet Bird Sanctuary. Jerry said that we still do not have a good plan for their removal although we had been given some suggestions at the invasives symposium last fall. Ultimately, we will probably be looking for a grant to assist us.


We need to begin work on getting information about garlic mustard out to borough residents. It is much easier to deal with in the early spring before it goes to seed. We might also look for support for this project from the High School Environmental Club.


Emerging Threats


Cliff gave us a status report on his recent experiences with emerging threats.


He spoke to us regarding his experiences with the Sudden Oak Death. He had spent time in Oregon at the site of a serious outbreak. Shoes and clothing had to be disinfected upon entering and leaving such an area. He brought along photos of the various stages of this disease and explained that it is an airborne disease. One photo showed a single large red oak that had died on Long Island. It was in the middle of a forest in which no other trees were affected.


Emerald Ash Borer has now been found in northern Vermont. This was new information to the committee. It had been previously confined to the areas around southern Michigan except for an isolated occurrence in Maryland and Virginia.


Pine Shoot Beetles are attacking the tips of the branches of pine trees. 


Bacterial Leaf Scorch is already in central NJ and is slowly moving up north.  The Southern Red Oak is being attacked, and the bacteria is being spread north by insects to the Northern Red Oak.


Asian Long Horned Beetle is attacking maples, elms, willows, poplar, birch, horse chestnut, and ash trees.  Cliff relayed a story about a beetle exiting a tree by going through a metal band that had been placed on the tree 30 minutes prior.  Jerry handed out informational booklets on this infestation. Since this beetle attacks sugar maple trees, the University of Vermont maintains a very useful website to help alert citizens to take an active role in identifying new infestations.


Mountain Lakes is now in the 30-mile quarantine area of the Jersey City outbreak of the Asian Long Horned Beetle. Cliff said that he surveyed Hanover Road in 2002-3, and every tree was listed within the observation site.  We asked if he could get a copy of this report for our records and Cliff said that he would look into this for us.  Barry Emens is the USDA agent; either he or Cliff could probably access this information.


It is believed that the beetle arrived in New Jersey by way of the Holland Tunnel, first appearing in Jersey City..


If a nursery is discovered to have any of these beetles in it’s stock the nursery is closed down. The standard response to an infestation is to remove every possible host tree within a quarter-mile radius.


Cliff mentioned that the beetle is capable of overwintering in both stages of development, egg and larval. Thus it can overwhelm the tree with a double attack in one year.  It takes about 5 years for the beetles to destroy a tree.  In China they have measured the movement of this beetle: 150 meters per year.  China has approached the treatment phase by having children climb the trees with hammers to kill any beetle that is on the surface of the bark. They also plant sugar maples among their poplars since the beetle favor the maples and the Chinese use the poplars.


Report on Asian Longhorned Beetle Talk by Tom Denholm of NJDA


On Wednesday, January 12, the local chapter of the Sierra Club sponsored a talk by Tom Denholm on the Asian Longhorned Beetle. Tom Denholm is the supervisor of the group at NJDA responsible for management of the Asian Longhorned Beetle. He came with lots of good literature and specimens of beetles and pieces of trees that had been preyed upon. Mr. Denholm has been involved with the beetle program since they were first discovered in Jersey City.


A little background: Beetle infestations have occurred in Chicago, Toronto, New York, and New Jersey. The Chicago outbreak is considered to be fairly well under control. They have reduced the original five quarantine areas to two. New York City has had some problems getting consistent management practices between the boroughs. They have not done as well. Estimated eradication date is 2020. New Jersey has been removing all possible host trees in the neighborhood of infested trees. This has proven to be effective. What they tell property owners is that infested trees must come down and be disposed of properly. The state and federal government pay for removal and replacement. Trees are cut up and shipped to a research site at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, MA where they are reconstructed and analyzed. If the property owners agree to removal and replacement of all host trees in the vicinity, the government pays for that as well. If the property owner does not agree and the trees later become infested, then the property owner pays for removal and disposal. Given this choice, property owners always agree to have the neighboring trees taken down and replaced with non-host trees.


An identification tip: carpenter bees and leopard moths make similar exit holes. The difference is the depth of the hole. Put the blunt end of a pencil into the exit hole. If it only goes to a depth of one-half inch, then a carpenter bee or a leopard moth has made the hole. If the depth is one to two inches, then it is probably an Asian Longhorned Beetle.


Mr. Denholm said that there was no special certification that would identify an arborist as having experience with ALBs. You just have to ask and make your own appraisal of their qualifications.


Take care in handling ALBs. They do bite.


Some useful contacts:


Beetle hotline 1-866-beetle-1


Tom Denholm office 609-292-5440, cell 646-335-6570


Barry Emens (Tom's USDA counterpart) office 609-984-3707, cell 646-335-6567


Carl Schulze (NJDA, Tom's boss) office 609-292-5441



ECO-Hike Project


Jerry handed out an updated outline of proposed stations on the hike:


ECO-Hike Stations


  1. History of area
  2. Invasives along disturbed area
  3. Lichen
  4. Replanting of trees at edge of fields
  5. Vernal pools
  6. Lichen/Moss??
  7. Spicebush (indicator)
  8. Stream at Carr bridge
  9. A dead tree (woodpeckers, etc.)
  10. The Old Oak
  11. More invasives
  12. Ailanthus
  13. Tulip trees (group of four)


The current plan is for Phil, Laurel Durenberger, Tom Carr, and Jerry to take the initiative on this with support from the others as needed.


Website: Threat Priorities


Jerry mentioned that an issue had arisen regarding website material. The Star-Ledger had published an excellent and informative article on the Asian Longhorned Beetle that we wanted to make available on our website. The preferred approach would be to paste a copy of the article onto our website. However, the article in question is copyright material. Permission to use it is still pending. Andy Bulfer said that this situation had not apparently happened before.


When we are sending information to be used in the website it can be done through the use of Microsoft Word and then attaching or embedding the links, usually to other informational sites, with the document. Or we can email it to Jerry with instructions and he can fix it.


Martha and Linda will be sending in the Invasive Plant information and Phil will be sending the Deer information.


Other Topics and Discussion                                                                                                           

Martha mentioned that she knows a person, a retired arborist, who is very knowledgeable about trees and who lives in Mountainside NJ.  She suggested that she could contact him and ask if he would visit our woodlands and note any interesting specimen trees or any particular condition we should be aware of.  She will also ask him for a recommendation for a good practicing arborist that we might want to contact. Jerry said that any time he could visit and help us out would be fine.


Cliff mentioned that there might be a possibility of re-introducing the American Chestnut. Work on this species has progressed to the point where they have a strain that is virtually all American chestnut and has about a one-in-ten change of survival. It would be something to keep in mind in our reforestation plans in the future.




Linda asked Phil to clarify the past month's e-mails that were being sent to the various committees regarding the limited success of the culling effort this year.  Phil explained that there was no one who knew what had caused the culling to be so unsuccessful but that it was not cost-effective to continue it.  However, there will be a infrared survey that will be done in March to assess the population of the herds.  The Tourne had a culling that resulted in a total of 7 deer being taken; however, Jerry mentioned that his son saw a herd of 12 in the far side of the Tourne near Old Boonton Road on Christmas day.  Phil explained that the deer are possibly becoming more “educated” and that they might be avoiding the feed stations now.  Martha mentioned that she has not seen any more deer in the woods behind Tower Hill, Condit, and Laurel Hill since the 4 deer were culled a month ago. 


We will have to watch for indications of recovery, new spice bush canes or shoots, less stress on residential shrubs, such as English Yews and arbor vitae, and more abundant understory species, ruffed grouse, oven birds, wood thrushes. We haven't seen any such indications yet.




There was a discussion about the destruction of an observation platform at the Hawk Watch in Rockaway Township on Wild Cat Ridge.  Cliff said that the fire, apparently set by locals, was so hot that it melted the aluminum supports on the viewing platform. Jerry said that we can’t let the concern of vandalism deter us from our goals. We intend to put up fencing in specific areas and begin the process of educating the citizens as to the conditions of the woodlands.  Jerry suggested that we put up plastic fencing.  His suggestions would be at the High Ground and Low Ground of Wilcox and somewhere near the walkways so that the citizens will be able to observe the changes.  It was suggested that we also enclose a vernal pool in such an area.  Phil and Jerry are going to continue observing the vernal pools and counting herptiles this year.


Clean Community Day


This is an event that encourages the entire town to clean up the public spaces.  It had been suggested that perhaps our committee might participate to encourage the citizens to become involved with the restoring of the woodlands.  Bob mentioned that the Scouts are already heavily involved in clean-up activities. The Boys Scouts have three times throughout the year that they work on specific sites and clean them up.  The Girls Scouts also do this once a year near the time of Earth Day. We decided that we would let the Scouts take the lead on this project. We may have suggestions for them regarding woodlands areas needing attention.


Woodlands Health Indicators


Brian Marshall has shared with us some views on woodland health indicators. For the record, his e-mail is included:




Here are a couple of thoughts about woodland health indicators:


--     It is difficult to pick one or two species as indicators of overall

woodland health, because there are other factors which dictate their

presence or absence.  In relatively similar woodlands, a species may be

present in one, but not the other, depending on the species of trees,

uplands vs. lowlands, size of the woods, age of the trees, soil conditions,

plus many other identifiable and unidentifiable habitat parameters.  You

would need to select a number of  different indicators applicable different

parts of the borough.


--     Many biologists believe that individual indicator species are best

used for identifying similar ecological communities, rather than as an

accurate gauge of woodland health.  That does not mean that species trends

are not reflective of ecosystem changes.


--     Biodiversity of a habitat is generally considered the standard

measure of ecosystem heath. The overall number of species present is used as

an indicator of the ecosystem's richness, health, and stability.   One can

measure overall biodiversity, or particular groups of plants or animals

(e.g., birds, amphibians, insects, mammals).  One of the United Nation's

primary goals related to protecting worldwide forests is through the

conservation of forest biodiversity.


--     Before you pick indicator groups or species, it is important to

determine exactly what you are trying to measure.  For example, if you want

to measure air pollution stresses on the woodlands, you may choose to

monitor the biodiversity of lichen communities.  If you want to measure

recovery of the understory after deer management began, you may choose to

monitor ground-level species.


--     If you choose to track individual wildlife species, it is important

to pick several from different taxa, and it is often recommended to pick

species known to be very important to that ecosystem, such as pollinators,

food species for predominant predators, or key decomposers.


--     The US Forest Service measures health of woodlands and forests using

methods more directly related to the vegetation itself.  They have developed

indicators related to vegetation diversity, crown conditions, down woody

materials, tree mortality, tree growth, and soil quality.  The University of

Vermont also monitors tree phenology, which addresses the seasonal patterns

of leaf and flower bud development, leaf maturity, fall coloration, and leaf



If you want to talk about any of these or other issues, just let me know.





Bird Counts


Glenn Mauer does a Christmas Bird Count and we would like to get a copy of this for the committee’s data. Cliff said that he would see if he could find that list. It was mentioned that Tim Vogel, who lives in Cedar Lake, has been counting the birds in the Tourne for many years.




Finally, Linda thanked Bob and Cliff for coming and asked them if they would be returning next month.  They both responded that they would be happy to return.