Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes
April 18, 2007
Attendees: Jerry Uhrig, Cliff Miles, Martha Dwer-Bergman, Phil Notestine, Bob Dewing, Richard Uranker
Guests: Caroline Dewing, Max Schindler, Alexandra Marcus, David Fewell, and Joan Greentree
Minutes from the previous meeting are on the website.
Recent activities of the MLHS Environmental Club
We began the evening with a presentation by the Environmental Club of the Mountain Lakes High School. Mr. David Fewell, the Club’s adviser, and 3 students gave a slide presentation on work that club members have been doing during this school year. The focus has been on monitoring streams in town. There are over 20 students involved in the club in grade 9th through 12th. They began in the fall of 2006 measuring the water quality of three streams in the Borough, sampling them to identify which macroinvertebrates could be found there. The three streams that were used in this study were: the stream that runs between Halsey Frederick Park and the YMCA, Rigby Brook in the Tourne just downstream of the original beaver dam, and the stream which flows out of Wildwood Lake through the school campus. Sampling is done in the fall and the spring. Results given were based on sampling done last fall. Spring sampling has not been done yet. Isopods (mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly) are the most sensitive to pollution and were not present at the time of the sampling. This could be due to the time of the year or the mesh of the nets that were used. What was found were midges (blood worms), flat worms, and damselflies, which are tolerant of excessive organic materials in the water. In the Tourne, near the beaver pond, they found crayfish, leeches, scuds, and sowbugs.
The conclusion was that all streams seem to be moderately impaired based on the observations of: lack of sensitive organisms and the limited biodiversity of the water. In the future, the club will continue to monitor the streams with the same standards that the NJDEP uses. Based on the results so far, some remediations might be suggested. The stream bank behind the ballfields next to the YMCA is eroding. An improved riparian buffer along this section of the stream could prevent this erosion and improve the water quality. This will also filter out nutrient pollutants such as fertilizers and feces that enter the stream from the ballfields. Mr. Fewell stated that he has a limited number of seedlings that could be used for this project: 10 each of buttonbush, silky dogwood, and green ash. We may need wire cages to protect these seedlings.
Buck Rub Problem
One of the trees planted between the new play fields was girdled and another seriously damaged by bucks rubbing the outer cover off their antlers last fall. Joan Greentree said that this problem can be avoided by driving a steel reinforcement bar (or "re-bar") into the ground close to the tree. This will prevent the deer from using that tree for the purpose because the re-bar is a problem for them. Jerry agreed that this will be done before the next "rubbing season" in the fall.
Jerry reviewed the fencing options that we are looking at for Richard, Phil and Bob. These were discussed in the minutes of our February meeting and will be briefly reviewed here for convenience. A commonly recommended fence for moderate-to-large size exclosures is the 7-foot fencing sold by Benner Fence. They offer two weights, standard and heavy, depending on the intended area of application. In addition, Joan Greentree has used two rather innovative approaches, one in Colorado to keep mule deer out of her garden and another in her present garden in Boonton Township. In Colorado, she used parallel strands of wire spaced 7-8 inches apart and extending to a height of about 7 feet. In Boonton township, she is using three concentric rings of inexpensive 3 foot fencing. Both approaches were effective for the areas protected. The concentric ring exclosure would be particularly appealing from a maintenance and access standpoint if it works for a somewhat larger area than Joan's prototype, which is relatively small.
Eagle Scout Project
Jerry reported on a recent conversation with Josh Bingham, the Eagle Scout candidate. He will be using the 7 foot standard fencing from Benner Fence. The vendor is offering Josh a 15% discount for a Scout project and an additional discount if he is willing to work with fence remnants left over from their own installation projects. We agreed that the additional saving was worth the extra work. Josh also asked if the radio antennas had been removed yet. Jerry was happy to report that they had all been removed in the process of demolishing the adjacent house. Josh has not yet received approval for his project from the Area Scout Council but that is the only step remaining before he begins.
Since the scouts are not allowed to use ladders, we need to have adults willing to help with getting the 9 foot posts driven into the ground. Phil said that he has several sledge hammers suitable for driving posts and that he would be available to help where needed. Richard suggested that it might be better to use a heavy driving sleeve in this case because of the height of the poles. Jerry mentioned that we also need to make some test holes with "re-bars" to determine the best spots for placing the posts. From the excavations in the adjoining lot, it appears that the soil is fairly typical Mountain Lakes rocky soil.
Future Environmental Club Project
The Environmental Club will be interested in the deer exclosure as a regeneration study site.
Rob Jennings said that the data is slow coming in to him. It could be that the final count is even higher than previously noted.
The infrared count may not be accurate for the Tourne, according to Phil. Usually, the deer would be in Mountain Lakes at night eating because there is no food left in the Tourne. Martha mentioned that there are still 8 bucks in the borough property behind her house on Tower Hill Road, and Jerry mentioned that he saw 4 deer on Pocono Road this past week at night. Phil pointed out that by now the bucks have all lost their antlers, making them more difficult to distinguish from does.
Jerry went to see the area, and it is flooded over the trail. There is evidence of continued activity at the site: trees that had been felled that are now stripped clear of the bark. Jerry mentioned that he has heard of someone who is director of maintenance at Ringwood State Park and apparently very knowledgeable about beavers. This person is also a Ramapo Indian medicine man and a friend of Stuart Udall. There is also apparently someone in Boonton that had a beaver problem. Jerry is attempting to contact these persons. We are worried that if we do nothing about the beavers we will lose a significant part of the woodlands to them. There is a question as to whether the beavers have moved from the original site. The dam does not appear to be in good repair.
On April 30th at Rock Ridge in Denville there will be a lecture on Dealing with Beavers on your lake in a humane way given by Rob Jennings. Susan Akers is the contact person at 973 983 8755. Martha has left a message with her to find out what time the meeting will be.
One interesting note is that deer do not eat beech trees even though beavers quite apparently do. This could help our woodlands recover if the beavers do leave.
Native Plant Society of New Jersey
New Jersey Native Plant Society president Kathy Salsberry has agreed to send a letter to the state forester to suggest that Shade Tree Commissions be given training in recognizing and controlling invasive trees. Jerry and Bob attended the Shade Tree Commissioner orientation workshop last year and found that the entire emphasis was on the physical condition of trees, nothing on whether the tree might be an invasive species. So we continue to have ailanthus trees along our streets which never get removed as part of the normal street tree maintenance program. Richard asked if Gary was aware of this problem. Jerry said that, yes, Gary had been included in the discussions between Woodlands and Shade Tree concerning the issue. The Shade Tree position is that they are doing what they can with limited resources. So they do not feel that they have the charter or training to deal with invasives. In January 2006 Woodlands and Shade Tree had a joint meeting at which it was agreed that Woodlands would provide a list of recommended/not recommended trees that might be used by Shade Tree in their planning and ongoing activities. We had the list pretty much finished last year but our Shade Tree liaison had health problems. We hope that she can review the list soon and see that it meets the needs of the Shade Tree commission.
Invasives Control Task Groups
Our next Invasive Control workshop will be this Saturday, April 21. We have agreed to meet at the jogging path along the Boulevard between Laurel Hill and Overlook. But after checking the area, Jerry recommends that the primary effort be directed to the foot of the sled run, just a little further back in Richard Wilcox Park.
We are hoping that there are more students working towards their community service time. Jerry has not heard from the school liaison person. Richard offered to follow up on this area.
Martha said that she would see if she could get a notice up on the Borough Hall Board for Saturday. Jerry said that if we could get sandwich boards to inform people that would be good too.
Summer Invasive Workshops
It was decided that the 3rd Saturday of each month, June/July/August, would be the dates for the invasive plant removal workshops during the summer. Locations and focus of each session are to be determined later.
Future Tree Crisis
Richard feels that there is a tree crisis looming 20 years from now and that we need to do things now to prevent the crisis. There are no new trees to take the place of the old trees that will be dying in the next 20 years. Joan Greentree encourages her clients to plant for the second generation. The concern is that the new people in town are not interested in protecting the trees but creating lawns.