Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

May 16, 2007


Attendees: Jerry Uhrig, Cliff Miles, Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Linda Spencer-Green, and Richard Uranker


Guests: Rick Miles




Minutes from the previous meeting are on the website.


Workshop Announcement


Richard informed the group that on Wednesday, May 23, there is a Native Plants seminar at Frelinghuysen Arboretum. The guest lecturer is Lesley Sauer, author of "The Once and Future Forest." Cliff and Linda will try to attend.



Special reports


NJ Audubon Restoration at Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuary


Jerry reported on NJ Audubon Restoration at Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuary.

Jerry attended a tour with Lynn on May 5. They have 200+ acres and have fenced off 15. They have a senior staff person half-time, a summer intern, and volunteer crews to control invasives.  There are a lot of invasives still in the enclosed area but outside the fence is much worse.  They have built a vernal pool within the fenced area, and a population of frogs, toads, and salamanders has moved in. When they built the enclosures, it held no oak seedlings under 15 years of age and no maple leaf viburnums. After a few years, it looks significantly better but still not really good yet. Japanese stilt grass is a difficult problem for them. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth a visit to help understand how difficult the restoration process can be.


An interesting and possibly helpful bit of information that emerged from our conversations was that Raptor Trust uses Asian bittersweet vines for raptor perches. We have to find out if they will come and remove it.


State Invasives Council Report


After several years of false starts, the New Jersey State Invasives Council is in the process of finalizing their report. Mike van Clef, formerly of The Nature Conservancy, now a private consultant, is heading the effort. They are asking for expert volunteers to help sort 900 species of plants into six categories ranging from "not a problem" to "very big problem." Three local members of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey spent several intense days categorizing 130 of the 900. It was not envisioned that anyone would actually do all 900.


Rob Jennings' Beaver Talk at Rock Ridge Club


See Beaver section below.




The informal count of the Tourne County Park deer culling last January is 25. This is an unofficial estimate made by the maintenance staff.  Jim Roff, Head of Maintenance at the Tourne, reported that he saw a herd of over 30 deer very recently.  Mr. Roff believes that they are coming into the Tourne from surrounding areas in Boonton Township that are being developed. We have no other updates from Rob Jennings.  Martha mentioned that the hostas in her front yard are still growing and that the deer haven’t eaten them yet.  Jerry said that his yews have not been badly browsed yet either.


Deer Exclosures


Eagle Scout Project


Josh Bingham sent a targeted request letter to the community for funding support for his Deer Exclosure Eagle Scout project. So far, the donations have exceeded $1000. The materials have been ordered and will be delivered to Jerry’s house.  The fencing will go up May 26 and Josh will need to have some adults help climb the ladders.  Jerry and Josh tested the ground in the area with a re-bar to see how bad the rock was; it seems ok.




Rick reported that Gary Webb said that the county has GIS data on the beavers.  The county is working on getting professional beaver trappers through the DEP. Someone wondered again about how many beavers may be out in the Tourne. Based on the number and size of the trees taken down and moved, it seems that there may be 5 to 10 of them.


Rob Jennings gave a lecture at Rock Ridge Lake on beavers and how to control them. He brought along a great deal of information on the subject (handouts), and Jerry collected it.  The highlights of the lecture are as follows: For various reasons, the beaver population throughout the country has been exploding in recent years. If you have good beaver habitat, they will find it. If you remove the beavers by trapping, more may (will) come to replace them. Rob estimated a cost of $50 per beaver for removal.  The actual cost could be greater, depending on the number of beavers. Jerry's lake association in the Poconos paid about $200 to have a single beaver removed last year. The trapper said that a second beaver would be less. We just need to remember that the $50 figure could be optimistic. Beavers like deep ponds more than 5 feet deep, thus, it is possible that they will eventually vacate the Tourne for our lakes.


The beavers are not likely to be taking any more trees down until fall since they

eat green vegetation including aquatic plants during the summer. So they could potentially be helpful in controlling the water lilies in Birchwood Lake.


You can actually control the depth of the water in their impoundment using a device that has been dubbed the "Beaver Deceiver." This is usually made out of a long (about 40 feet) segment of 4" perforated PVC pipe. The pipe is inserted through the dam at the desired depth of the water and centered (20 feet upstream, 20 feet downstream). The beavers pretty much never figure out how to stop all the leakage. So the impoundment doesn't exceed the depth of the pipe.


The question is often asked, "Why not just destroy the dam?" The problem is that the beavers will just take down more trees and rebuild the dam. So you have to first remove the beavers and then remove the dam. But remember, if the habitat is good, more beavers are probably on the way.


Beavers also will dam up spillways in lakes. There are barriers with screens that have been successfully used to prevent this.


To prevent beavers from destroying trees and shrubs around lakes, it is recommended that they be wrapped in hardware cloth.


We in Mountain Lakes need to recognize that a very likely scenario is that in 5 – 10 years there could be beavers in our lakes. So we need to plan how we intend to manage them and also to protect the vegetation we want to save. The trees at Birchwood and Crystal Lake are not protected and probably should be.




It was mentioned that at least one herd of goats (all females) love to eat multiflora rose. We might seriously think of how to use goats to remove some of our invasive plants.


Invasives Control Task Groups


Our next Invasive Control workshop will be this Saturday, May 19. Meet at the entrance to Midvale Field. We expect to find lots of Norway maple and Asian bittersweet.


We would like to see more students working towards their community service time.  Jerry has not heard from the school liaison for a while.  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 out, it could be helpful as well.


Summer Fieldwork


We plan to continue the fieldwork through the summer, 10am until noon on the third Saturday of each month. Locations are: June in Halsey Frederick Park for winged euonymous, July at the sled run off Overlook for Japanese barberry, and August at the Birchwood parking lot for Japanese knotweed.


Other Topics


Mosquito Commission


The County Mosquito Commission has been checking our vernal pools and applying BT if they deem that the number of mosquito larvae is excessive. Cliff said that their methods are pretty well targeted so that they do not directly harm amphibian larvae in the pool. But we should probably know more about this process to be sure that no undue harm is done to our herptile population. Jerry said that he would contact Gary Webb about it.


More on New Trees at Playfields


A few of the new trees planted in this area are honey locusts. Our native honey locust is a tree with 3-inch thorns that can be quite formidable. They can be found in the wild in this area. The trees at the playfields are a hybrid that is grown by grafting to a native stump. The hybrid does not have the long thorns. What we have to watch for is that any suckers springing from the stumps would be native honey locusts and would have the very unfriendly 3-inch thorns. So we need to take care to remove any suckers should they appear.


Possumhaw Viburnums


The tree news is not all bad. We have a decent number of possumhaw viburnums growing in Halsey Frederick Park. There are some very young seedlings on the bank opposite the tennis courts. And further in, below the lower field there are two mature trees, 20-30 feet tall and flowering (white flowers typical of viburnums). These are good native trees that add much needed diversity to our woodlands. Apparently, the deer do not eat these seedlings.