Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

February 21, 2007

 

Attendees: Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Bob Dewing, Cliff Miles, Jerry Uhrig

 

Guests:Joan Greentree (aka Greentree), Josh Bingham

 

Administrative

 

Minutes from the previous meeting are on the website.

 

General

 

Cliff reported that both gray and red foxes are living in Halsey Frederick Park this year.

 

Cliff also noted that one of the trees planted between the two new playfields has been girdled by "buck rub." The tree apparently needed better protection from the deer.

 

Deer

 

Phil Notestine was unable to attend the meeting but filed this report:

A total of 14 deer were reported taken by UBNJ bowhunters, including 11 does. So we can estimate 22 fetuses. We do not know about non-UBNJ hunters, and I am aware of some, including one of the borough crew and some residents who may not report. So, we can estimate a (summer) herd reduction of near 40. And, no cost to the Borough. Up to this point, I think that we can safely say that bowhunting is an effective herd management tool, once it is culled to a reasonable level. Many communities around the nation report similar findings.

The Environmental Commission planned for an infra-red count to be done this month, but was under-funded and now it may be too warm. Two vendors submitted proposals. One was HotShot who did the previous count. This time they promised new technology and better results. They were quoting about $3,700. The other vendor, Davis Aviation, was over $5K. Our budget is $3K. The County is using HotShot, which will do the flyover next week.

 

I have not received a report on 2006 deer-MV incidents from Chief Bob

Tovo. I know that he has been busy. Gary Webb will remind him of my

request. However, deer numbers seem to be unremarkable as far as

presence, incidents and damage.

UBNJ reported an incident between one of their bowhunters and a

resident. She (the citizen) tried to provoke a problem, but the

responding MLPD saw through a ruse on her part, so I am told. Gary Webb

confirms this.

On another topic, I have read that there is a national threat to amphibians, some kind of fungus, maybe the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Let's do a watch of our vernal ponds! We have no benchmark, but the frogs and toad critters were certainly vocal last spring. Tree(peepers) frogs should be hollerin' in March! A wonderful song of Spring and rebirth! Some mole salamanders may be in the ponds now.

Plenty of bird action here in Yorke Village. Even some territorial

establishing activities. Come on, Spring! One more month!

As per Philís notes, Jerry confirmed that Hotshot will be doing the deer census for the county in the Tourne, and it is likely to include portions of Mountain Lakes in their infrared count.

 

Martha mentioned that in the past month, she saw 6 bucks in the woods behind her house on Tower Hill Road, all with various sizes of antlers and maturity.They stayed on the ridge for the entire morning and wandered down towards Laurel Hill about 11:30am.

 

At this time we do not have the final results of the deer management program in the Tourne County Park. We have only the results from the first day, which we have reported in the minutes of our January meeting.

 

Beavers

 

Jerry showed photos of the beaver lodge and the surrounding area in the Tourne.It is the vicinity of the spring house trail, which connects the two sides of the valley. There are two bridges on this trail. One has become a beaver dam, and the other has been flooded out. The bridge that has been flooded is about 20 yards downstream from where the lodge is located. The photos showed the damage done by the beavers, saplings cut down and removed and a large beech tree girdled.

 

This time of year, access to the beaver area is simplified because the ground is frozen hard.It was noted that in a couple of places the beavers have removed oriental bittersweet and winged euonymus. This would be the only positive effect of the beavers on our woodlands to date.

 

Some of us walked the area in December with a trapper, but he was not successful in trapping the beavers. Gary Webb contacted DEP Fish and Wildlife and told them that we still need assistance with the beavers. Our case manager, Chris Sliker, was out of the office and will get back to us when he returns.

 

In 2003, beavers built the first dam in the Tourne.At that time Rob Jennings, Morris County Park System biologist, was quoted as stating that the beaver population in the U.S. had exploded from 2 million to 60 million in recent years.

 

Deer Exclosures

 

We discussed three alternate designs for deer exclosures. The most common exclosure is based on having a tall enough fence so that deer will not try to jump over it. Usually, a seven or eight foot fence is used. Recently, we have learned about two alternative designs that have been used successfully by Greentree, a landscape architect living in Boonton Township. Her design is based on having a much shorter fence, about 3 feet high, but using three concentric rings spaced 3 feet apart. One version, used to keep mule deer out of her garden in Colorado, used strands of heavy galvanized wire spaced about 8 inches apart. The other version that she is using locally in Boonton Township to keep deer away from three young mountain laurels has simple inexpensive garden fence instead of the wire strands. Jerry and Lynn Uhrig visited Greentree to inspect the deer exclosure and found it to be effective indeed. There were tracks in the snow that indicated where a deer had actually stepped inside the outer ring but departed without going near the mountain laurels.

 

From a maintenance and accessibility standpoint the lower multi-fence design is very appealing. What needs to be determined now is how large an area can be protected with this approach because we need to be able to protect an area large enough to be statistically significant, maybe as large as one-quarter acre.

 

We selected four sites for deer exclosures, chosen to give us a representative sample of woodlands throughout the Borough:

 

1.      The Borough lot on West Shore Road at the entrance to Birchwood where we have been removing invasive vegetation for several years

2.      A site somewhere in Richard Wilcox Park

3.      Halsey Frederick Park near the ECO-Hike between stations 13 and 14

4.      The woodlands at the end of Yorke Road

 

Eagle Scout Projects

 

Josh Bingham, a member of Boy Scout Troop 41, is planning his Eagle Scout project and is considering doing a project involving deer exclosures. We gave him material on Benner fencing, which is a recommended supplier of the taller fences. He will next determine the manageable scope of his project and follow up with questions as they arise.

 

INVASIVE PLANT CONTROL

 

It has been noted that in at least one area in our woodlands, when garlic mustard has been removed, Japanese stiltgrass has replaced it. This serves as a reminder to all of us of the need for patience and persistence in this effort. First, we deal with the garlic mustard, and then we work on the Japanese stiltgrass, which is also a serious invasive plant.

 

Invasives Control Task Groups

 

As decided at our previous meeting, the first Invasives Control Task Group outing will take place on Saturday, March 24, 10am to noon, at the Eco-Hike area. We will be working on invasives listed in the Invasive Plant Calendar for April: garlic mustard, Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, wineberry, and oriental bittersweet.

 

We decided at this meeting that the second outing will be held on Saturday, April 21, 10am to noon, beside the Boulevard walking path between Laurel Hill and Overlook. We will be working on plants given in the Invasive Plant Calendar for May, which is identical to April except that by now the garlic mustard should be sending up seed-producing stalks.

 

Japanese Knotweed Control

 

Jerry brought an article from the summer 2006 newsletter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, which explains in great detail the correct approach to remove knotweed from an area.Basically, it is rhizome, which makes it nearly impossible to remove by digging it up because the small rhizomes are left in the soil, and with the soil disturbed it encourages more invaders.It spreads aggressively through the rhizomes and also through fresh stems that are cut off and left on the ground (they can root in less than 7 days).The best way to rid a site of them is to cut the stems repeatedly, at least three times during the growing season and thus reduce the root reserves of the rhizomes.. CUT STALKS IN EARLY JUNE TO DRAW RESERVES OF THE RHIZOME.IN AUGUST OR WHEN STALKS REACH APPROXIMATELY 4 FEET IN HEIGHT, SPRAY TO COAT LEAVES.THE TIMING OF CUTTING AND HERBICIDE APPLICATION IS VERY IMPORTANT. This must be continued for as long as the knotweed is present in the area, maybe for a number of years.†† However, once the stem is cut it CANNOT be left on the ground the stems must been bagged and properly disposed, either burnt or dried in the direct sunlight.It may even be possible to cover the remaining stems in the ground with clear plastic so that the sun will dry out the stem.The plastic must be secured so that it cannot be washed or blown away.Finally, herbicides are effective but not to be used near watershed areas or lakes, or rivers.

 

Martha mentioned that the shoulder of North Pocono road was cut and burned last summer, apparently an attempt to control the knotweed along that portion of Pocono. Martha will drop off the knotweed control information to Gary Webb for the Borough crew.

 

ADDITIONAL TOPICS

 

Volunteers

 

Richard Uranker, our Council liaison this year, was unable to attend the meeting but he offered some good ideas about finding ways to direct student service hours to projects that would be more directly beneficial to the Borough. Jerry has been collaborating with Patty McElduff for several years on various ways to meet these kinds of needs. But to date, these efforts have been less than a resounding success. The gains have been small relative to the need. Richard has suggested that it might be helpful for Gary Webb to discuss the matter with the school superintendent. We want to be sure that we are making the best use of this resource.

 

In addition, there are other groups that might be helpful: churches and various scouting groups. They often all have a need to find service projects. On our part, we can help them appreciate how to be good stewards of their community.

 

Sudden Oak Death Conference

 

Jerry brought a copy of the proceedings from the Sudden Oak Death Science Symposium II. There were two papers assessing the risk of SOD across the US. As we have seen before, the risk in our area is considered to be moderate, so we need to be vigilant.

 

New York/New Jersey Trail Conference Invasive Mapping Program

 

Jerry shared a Trails Conference article that reported about 59 Trail Conference volunteers walking 66 miles of parkland in the Harriman and Ringwood/Ramapo area this past summer. The volunteers were called VIPS, or Volunteer Invasive Plant Surveyers. Flags were placed at various locations along trails. When a hiker encountered one of the flags, a ten-foot radius circle around the flag was surveyed.

 

They collected information about the presence or lack of 22 species of invasive plants.The most prevalent were: garlic mustard, devil's walking stick, Japanese barberry, oriental bittersweet, winged euonymus, privet, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose.

 

The program seems to have worked well for them. It could possibly work for us as well.

 

New Jersey Invasives Species Council

 

Jerry brought copies of a letter that the State of New Jersey/DEP/Natural and Historic Resources wrote to the President of the Rockaway Valley Garden Club to acknowledge an inquiry regarding the development of an invasive species management plan.After an apparent lapse of a year or so, the Council has resumed regularly scheduled meetings, the last being February 2, 2007. The plan is scheduled for submission to the Council in late February 2007.There will be a two-month period for review of the draft and then it will be returned to a contractor for finalization.The final draft is expected in late June 2007.†† The plan will take a comprehensive approach to addressing the severe threat that invasive species pose to New Jerseyís natural heritage.

 

Mountain Laurel Disease

 

There is a disease affecting mountain laurels in this area. Leaves appear to have brown splotches and eventually the shrub dies. It seems to be affecting both the native understory in the woodlands and the residential ornamentals. Jerry gave Cliff a sample leaf taken from Wilcox Park near Crystal Lake. Cliff will take it to a USDA pathologist for evaluation. Greentree suggested that it might be a good idea to send a leaf to the Research Institute of the New York Botanical Garden as well.