Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

February 16, 2005


Attendees: Jerry Uhrig, Phil Notestine, Linda Spencer-Green, George Jackson


The minutes from the previous meeting were approved.




Permanent Status


Patie Graham is working on our charter. She is collecting charters from other boards/commissions/committees to be sure that ours interfaces with the others in the desired manner. She is also collecting charters from other groups in town, such as Home and School Association and the League of Women Voters for general ideas and concepts.




The number of deer killed this year was quite a bit less than expected. We discussed the problem briefly. Except for the first day of culling, when 7 deer were taken, no deer showed up at the feeding stations. We made a joint decision with DMS that, under the circumstances, further attempts at culling made no sense at that time. The question arose as to the reasons the deer were not showing up at the feeding stations. Some possibilities are:


1.      Pressure from other hunting activities, some controlled (UBNJ) and some not controlled (any other hunters), kept deer out of the woodlands entirely.

2.      Relatively mild weather in December meant that the deer were less reliant on the feeding stations for food.

3.      The actual number of deer in town was far less than we expected.

4.      The deer somehow understood that the feeding stations were dangerous and avoided them.


Jerry noted that the amount of deer browse on his English yews suggests that reason 3 is not very likely. He has been told by a wildlife biologist that deer only browse yews when food is very scarce since yews are actually toxic to deer if they eat too much of it. Jerry also observed that Patie Graham's arbor vitaes look like they are getting browsed again this year to about the same extent as last year.


We discussed briefly the possible role of hunting. Should it be expanded in the future? What are the applicable hunting regulations? Limited firearms hunting in the Tourne County Park took 6 deer in a little more than a week. Since this is nearly as many as DMS got, maybe there would be some merit in extending that activity into Wilcox Park as well. Two major concerns with the hunting approach are:


1.      Safety, especially firearms, as well as the unknown, possibly uncertified, hunters who might avail themselves of the opportunity.

2.      Effectiveness; i.e., could hunting alone ever reduce the deer population to the point required for recovery of the woodlands. Hunters, for the most part, try not to reduce the herd to negligible levels. It limits future hunting opportunities.


The next significant information we will get on the deer herd will come as a result of the infrared aerial survey to be taken in early March. Presumably, the Tourne County Park will be included. Before speculating further on the actual state of our deer population and what further measures should be taken, we agreed to wait for the results of the infrared deer count. Phil said that we should have these results before our next meeting. So this item will be put on the March agenda.




George mentioned that the goose control program this year would include addling but not culling. U. S. Fish and Wildlife will do the addling. Jerry mentioned that he knows where most of the nests are from many years of addling. He agreed to pass this information along to Gary Webb.


Fenced Areas


We plan to fence some protected areas this year to begin work on woodlands restoration. George wondered if we might somehow be able to learn what we need to know from fenced areas elsewhere. But, as Linda explained, by keeping the deer out, we can use these areas as a baseline to compare with the state of our remaining woodlands to help us assess whether we have managed to control the deer herd to a sufficient degree.


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 Laurel Durenberger, Tom Carr, and Jerry to take the initiative on this with support from the others as needed.




Jerry passed out some information on garlic mustard. This should be the first initiative on invasives this year. We need to get information to residents so that they can help.


Jerry brought photos of an ailanthus tree in Halsey Frederick Park, which had apparently fallen down during the clearing for the playfields. One photo showed the roots and the kind of soil the tree was growing in: ashes that were part of the old dumpsite. The other photo showed the upper part of the tree with new shoots sprouting. Apparently there were just enough of the roots still in contact with the soil to support new growth. Ailanthus is a very persistent invasive. It also poisons the soil so that other trees cannot grow. We have a major grove of ailanthus at the old dumpsite in Halsey Frederick Park.



Website: Threat Priorities


Phil submitted an excellent site for deer this month. Maintained by Rutgers, it will be a very comprehensive site on deer management in New Jersey when it is finished.


Now that the committee is permanent, we need to put a link to our home page on the Environment page of the Borough website. Jerry will take care of this along with some other details including the modification of our name.


Other Topics and Discussion                                                                                                           



Phil attended the orientation program for state bobcat monitoring project. Details are as follows:


Action Alert: Volunteers Needed to Help Protect New Jersey's Endangered



New Jersey is one of the most densely populated states in the nation

yet its remaining wild lands still harbor an important mid-sized

carnivore - the bobcat. But because bobcats are highly sensitive to

human disturbance, they will be one of the first species lost if

fragmentation and human encroachment continue to erode critical

habitats. Thanks to the progressive conservation efforts of the NJ

Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program

and its non-profit arm, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey,

work is underway to provide long-term protection for this state-listed

endangered species.

The Division is now recruiting volunteers to assist with various

aspects of the monitoring efforts including checking and maintaining

live-cage traps, and setting, checking and maintaining motion-sensitive

cameras. You can play a vital role in protecting this beautiful animal

and the habitat critical to its long-term survival. If you are

interested in becoming a volunteer, please see the additional details

outlined below.


What You Can Do:

We are hoping to recruit 40 to 50 people for the New Jersey Bobcat

Project so they can become trained 'citizen scientist' volunteers. This

corps of volunteers will be instrumental to the success of this phase of

the project. Volunteers will be trained to assist biologists in a

variety of field tasks such as setting, baiting and checking the

livetraps, setting and monitoring motion-sensitive cameras, and data

recording. They will also learn about bobcat ecology and biology, field

identification techniques, present threats, and bobcat research and


Below is a list of minimum requirements and information on specific

volunteer tasks. If you can't volunteer, please pass this e-mail on to

friends and family members who might be interested.


Minimum requirements:

1) Participation requires attendance and successful completion of the

workshop training. All volunteers must attend the initial training

workshop.  The initial training workshop is scheduled for Saturday,

February 5th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Pequest Trout Hatchery

and Natural Resource Education Center located on Rt. 46, nine miles west

of Hackettstown, NJ, in scenic Warren County. On-line directions are

available at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/peqdirct.htm. Volunteer

duties begin in early February (February through March for live cage

trapping) and will continue throughout the year for camera trap

monitoring. An additional required workshop will be scheduled for

volunteers monitoring camera traps.

2) Participation requirements vary depending upon the type of volunteer


     -To check and bait the cage traps the volunteer will need to

commit 1-2 hours per morning for a minimum of one week. Traps must be

checked daily first thing in the morning.

     -For checking and monitoring motion-sensitive camera traps,

volunteers need to commit three days (3-4 hours each day) over a two

week period. This can be done on weekends.

3) Ability to travel to Warren, Morris, Sussex and Passaic counties in

northwestern New Jersey

4) Interest and knowledge of natural history

5) Ability to hike in cold and inclement weather

6) You must RSVP if you plan to attend the training workshop on Feb. 5,

2005 by sending an Email message to: Maria.DuBois@dep.state.nj.us


If you have any questions about the Bobcat Project, please call 609


To learn more about New Jersey's endangered and threatened wildlife,

please visit www.njfishandwildlife.com and www.conservewildlifenj.org



Herp Survey and Vernal Pools


Jerry plans to support the survey for herptiles and vernal pools again this year. He would appreciate information on any interesting herptiles that you may see in the borough. Pictures are very helpful. More information on the programs can be obtained at the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program website.




Phil suggested that it might be helpful to have an environmental newsletter for borough residents. It would try to reach people who might not be as comfortable with searching through the environmental segment of the Borough website.



King of Kings Property


George gave us an update on the status of the acquisition of the King of Kings property. The Mountain Lakes Land Conservancy has obtained $1M from the Morris County Open Space & Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. George said that since we have contributed approximately $2.5M to the fund over the years, it is good to be getting something significant back. He said that a Green Acres application had been submitted for most of the remaining funds needed for the purchase.


Shade Tree Meeting with Landscape Contractors


The Shade Tree Commission is planning to meet with landscape contractors in the area to discuss losses to our tree canopy. They asked for a Woodlands representative. Linda will cover it for us. Jerry suggested that some discussion of invasive species, such as Bradford pear trees, might be in order as well.


Revised tree ordinance


George said that the Shade Tree Commission was working on a revised Shade Tree Ordinance that would regulate the removal of trees in the setback area of residential lots.


Charter Realignments


George pointed out that the current charter for the Shade Tree Commission gives them responsibility for trees throughout the Borough parklands. We agreed that Woodlands would take responsibility for trees within parklands and borough lots. Shade Tree will still have responsibility for street trees. So the new Woodlands charter should reflect this realignment. Likewise, the Shade Tree charter needs to be fixed.




George mentioned that the League of Women Voters had some discussions concerning how to best care for borough lots. It is possible that some sort of stewardship plan, such as adopt-a-lot might help. It is clear that we would need to have well-defined policies in place before any such plan could work. More fundamentally, we would need a model for how such limited habitats should be maintained. What is clear at present is that, along with the rest of our woodlands, the small lots are not what they should be.