Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

June 21, 2006


Attendees: Cliff Miles, Linda Spencer-Green, Louise Davis, Jerry Uhrig




Minutes from the May meeting are on the website. No changes were needed.




            Sustainable Forest Management - Pinchot Institute


Jerry reported that the current issue of The Pinchot Letter summarizes a recent seminar on global trends and sustainable forest management. The question addressed was phrased: "with economic values from U. S. forests projected to remain flat or decline, how can the U. S. maintain its forested ecosystems to ensure the provision of important non-market and market values?" With the large, integrated forest products companies divesting their timberlands and manufacturing facilities in the U. S., one key increasingly important element is community managed forests. The Ford Foundation has invested over $50 million in community-based forest efforts in the U. S. over the past ten years. There are clearly some opportunities worth investigating here.


The report on the seminar can be found at the Pinchot Institute website www.pinchot.com.




Management status

The general impression is that the woodlands are improving. Linda reports that the understory in Wilcox Park is looking healthier. She found a lady's slipper growing near the trail on a recent hike. Cliff investigated further and found a whole colony of them, about 20 or so.


Cliff has been seeing birds that have not been particularly evident in recent years: a veery and a brown thrasher.


Cliff also reported finding a beautiful fungus growing along the ECO-Hike trail just before Station 14. He is in the process of confirming a false hellebore down in the wet part of Halsey Frederick Park. The spicebush does not appear to have been too badly browsed this year. So the woodlands do show signs of at least some resilience if not recovery. On the other hand, it is not hard to find badly browsed English yews and azaleas in yards around town.


Deer are also out and about pretty much any time of day but maybe not in the same numbers as before. Cliff reported seeing a buck reclining in the skunk cabbage down by the ECO-Hike trail. This particular deer was eating jewelweed, unperturbed by hikers passing by. So one index of how many deer we have might be how much jewelweed survives and flowers.



                        Management options

We reviewed our deer management options for the coming year. One major decision is whether to continue the "maintenance-mode" approach of last year in which the harvest probably did not offset the birth rate, or to find another approach that might get the population down to what we might actually need in a recovering woodland. Jerry suggested it might be a good time for a more comprehensive approach. One possibility would be to have a knowledgeable consultant, of the caliber of Byron Schissler or Dr. Gary Ault (see previous Woodlands minutes), review our woodlands condition and make a recommendation. Another possibility would be to undertake a more comprehensive management approach along the lines of the Hemlock Farms community in Pike County, PA. Jerry agreed to investigate these options further. In the meantime, there is a meeting on Friday, June 30 that could provide some helpful contacts and perspective:


FLIR Aerial Survey Results


      MILFORD - Robin Wildermuth, consultant and owner of Woodland

Management Services, Inc. in Tafton and vice president of the Pike

County Branch of Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), will give

an informative presentation about a recent Forward Looking InfraRed

(FLIR) aerial survey and update on the Pike County deer herd Friday,

June 30. This special program with a PowerPoint presentation will be held in the education meeting room of the Pike County Conservation District building on Route 402 at 7 p.m. Wildermuth will explain the results of the FLIR flight and how it relates to the deer herd. He will also discuss deer herd reproduction, population, and habitat condition in Pike County. The public is welcome to attend. Visit the QDMA website www.QDMAPikeCountyPa.com for more details about Branch activities.




Cliff reported finding more Devil's walking stick, aralia spinosa, down below the playfields in Halsey Frederick Park and across from the YMCA on Fanny Road.


Invasive Plant Conference, August 9, Frelinghuysen Arboretum

See details at www.arboretumfriends.org



Cliff also reported that the pine shoot beetle identifications in the surrounding counties were confirmed by the Carnegie Institute. This beetle attacks all pine trees, disfiguring but not killing the tree. It has not yet been found in Morris County.


Linda inquired about the status of gypsy moths. They do not appear to have gone beyond the nuisance level yet. As a point of interest, Cliff said that cuckoos, both yellow-billed and black-billed, do eat gypsy caterpillars. As far as we know, these are the only birds that eat them. Jerry reported that a borough resident had seen a yellow-billed cuckoo recently in his yard. The resident asked if American cuckoos shared the parasitic egg-laying habit of the European cuckoo and the American cowbirds. Cliff said that, for the most part, they do not. He added a fascinating bit of information about the European cuckoo. Apparently, this bird not only lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, but it possesses an uncanny ability to adapt the size and color of the egg to match those in whatever nest it uses.


Cliff also reported finding some more American chestnut trees: two trees, each about 4" diameter and about 30' tall, on either side of the trail around Birchwood near the well house.


Work on the tree lists for the Shade Tree Commission is progressing. We discussed the incident in Madison, reported in the Daily Record in early May, in which the Shade Tree Management Board apparently did not understand that the town was planting invasive trees along the main street entering town. Jerry noted that having recently completed CORE training for Shade Tree Commissioners, there is nothing in the curriculum regarding invasive trees, not even Norway maples or Tree of Heaven. So we have to be sure there are no such gaps in our town by having a clear line of communication with the Shade Tree Commission. We owe them two tree lists. One list will contain the trees that can be safely recommended, i.e., native trees. The other list will be trees that are not recommended and should be removed if possible and practical. These would be the invasive trees. We need to be sure that the list is as clear as we can make it. A lot of the confusion in Madison had to do with which varieties of Callory pear trees are recommended, if any, and which are not. Jerry agreed to circulate draft lists for comment so that we can support the Shade Tree Commission on this.


                        COMTF Newsletter, GAO reports

The current issue of the California Oak Mortality Task Force Newsletter can be viewed at www.suddenoakdeath.org

It has several items of interest. One is that Sudden Oak Death is spreading, to USDA Forest Service land in Oregon and to new areas on the coast of Norway where it has been found to be more common than previously realized.  Also, six more California nurseries were found to be P. ramorum-positive, bringing the total to 18. Some of these nurseries do ship out of state. The other item of interest is the release of two reports:


"The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report, “Invasive Forest Pests: Lessons Learned from Three Recent Infestations May Aid in Managing Future Efforts,” (GAO-06-353, April 2006) has been published.  The report evaluates the federal response to three invasive forest pests: Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, and P. ramorum.  Recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture included: expanding efforts to monitor forest health conditions to include urban areas, regularly updating and publishing management plans for pests that include status information and funding needs, and implementing written procedures that broadly define when and how to operate science panels for specific pests.


"The report will be discussed June 21 at a Congressional Forest Health Subcommittee meeting hearing in Washington D.C.  COMTF Chairman Mark Stanley will be testifying on lessons learned from addressing Sudden Oak Death in California.


"To access the report, as well as highlights and the abstract, go to the GAO website at:  http://searching.gao.gov/query.html?col=+&qt=+sudden+oak+death&charset=iso-8859-1&ql.

A related report, “Homeland Security: Management and Coordination Problems Increase the Vulnerability of U.S. Agriculture to Foreign Pests and Disease (GAO-06-644),” posted May 19, 2006, is also available at the site.