Woodlands Committee Meeting February 18, 2009


Attending: Cliff Miles, Chris Stitt, Phil Notestine (Chair), Martha Bergman-Dwyer (Scribe), Bob Dewing, Judy Edwards, and Blair Schleicher-Wilson (Council Liaison)


Chris was welcomed to the committee as a new member this meeting.  Chris talked about his work with the Wildwood Third Graders doing a Birding Count this spring.  Martha mentioned that the magazine Birds and Blooms have a website that has both pictures and song identification for the students to use.


Cliff stated that woodcocks are starting to display already this year due to the unusually warm weather.


Phil began the meeting with requests for any changes in January 2009 minutes.  There were no changes noted and the minutes were approved.  They will be put up on the website for public record.


Phil reported back on the Borough Council meeting.  The members of the council were very encouraging to Phil’s presentation of the Woodlands Management Committee and Blair stated that she will keep us posted on its progress as regards a budget for 2009.


Phil spoke of the new responsibility of the committee which will be the Trails in the borough.  At this time there is no one overseeing this aspect of the woodlands.  The borough crew will assist in the removal of trees from the pathways and the maintenance of the sites that need to be trimmed back.  The Woodlands Charter will include Trails as part of its oversight responsibilities.  It was suggested that the Scouts be invited to participate in this area, however, Bob stated that for the Scouts to be involved it has to be a specific timely focus not just general maintenance of an area.


Phil had asked the Council about liability concerns for the Woodlands Management Committee when we are working in the woods and the council explained that there was a policy through the Borough that covers all volunteers working on the various committees.  Blair said that a review of the specific sections regarding application of herbicides and other flora poisons and usage of tools, will be needed to clarify these questions.  Bob reminded the group that both he and Jerry Uhrig attended a State Safety Workshop on tree safety.  This workshop attendance then provided a 5 year absolution of liability.  Jerry will need to be contacted to get the specifics as to where this course is offered, Bob stated that it is offered twice a year on a Saturday from 8-4 and it is free.  Cliff stated that he personally has a federal license for the application of specific poisons that many others do not have.


Deer Management:  Phil recapped the year with 14 deer taken (12 doe, est. 24 fetuses, and 2 buck) the deer are in good health.  Phil estimates that the herd is now about 14 per square mile, a huge reduction since 2004. In March there will be a pizza dinner meeting with the bow hunters to learn from them and to thank them for their work.


NRI Final Fauna Report:  The final report will be put up on the website for the community to access.  Cliff had sent Rick Radis 5 pages of corrections to be included in the report.  Cliff stated that Morris County has a 3 page listing of dragon/damsel flies just for this county; however, moths are not as well documented.  Martha suggested that the report have a user friendly section that can be used by the public to learn to identify the fauna by sight and by sound.  Websites exist that could be used for this purpose. Here is one for frogs and toads.  http://www.naturesound.com/frogs/frogs.html

 If it were done by season this would be very helpful and with a map as to where these fauna could be found.  Make it local with photos/sounds/and maps of Mountain Lakes.  Phil mentioned that people would be able to print out pages and make additional notations on their observations.  After an accumulation, they may send them in to Woodlands for an eventual update.


Beaver Pond:  Cliff and Phil have both been out there to observe the site.  Cliff said that he was surprised as to how close the lodge was to the main trail (about 10 feet off the old trail).  There was a conversation regarding the remains of the old cabins in the park area.  They suggested that there be a link to the Mountain Lakes Historical Society’s website because there are a growing accumulation of Oral histories that may note interesting sites in our woodlands. http://www.mtnlakes.org/History/Oral/index.html


Winter Observations:  Cliff reported that he has seen Pine Siskin, goldfinch, white winged cross-bills. Bob has 2 foxes in his back yard.


Bears:  There needs to be a notice put into the Home and School on March regarding the emergence of bears and their cubs from out of hibernation and the preventative measures that are needed to be safe.


Cliff observed that a resident on Intervale had cut down a tree near the stop sign and he thinks that this tree may be a borough tree. Such violations should be reported to the borough manager.


Invasive Floral Species Committee: This ad-hoc group was formed to create a community and committee based resource to enable the groups to work together to establish joint areas of pursuit and establish goals for working together on invasive plants in Mountain Lakes.  Judy reported that the meeting was attended by a member of the EC, Historic Preservation, Shade Tree, Lakes Management, Woodlands and the Garden Club.  Brian Marshall questioned the findings of the Woodlands committee and the panel of experts at the Summit Meeting.  Brian presented his own agenda to the group.  Phil will be attending the next meeting with Judy to help answer some of the questions that were raised by Brian.  Blair, Woodlands Management Committee’s liaison from the Borough Council, stated that the Woodlands Management Committee is Borough sanctioned and that the Invasive Species Committee is an ad-hoc committee.


Woodlands Husbandry Project:  Bob went through his project so that the new members of the committee understood the Woodlands Husbandry project.  In twenty-five years from now all the trees that have reached their maturity will have died and the life cycle will be completed. The goal of this project is to educate the community and to care for the health of the “pocket parks”.  This process will require that there be volunteers from the neighborhood who will take on the responsibility of caring for the site after the initial work is completed, such as watering the new trees and protecting the site from future dumping.  Trees that have fallen in the site will be left there to complete the cycle of life and used as protection for the newly planted trees.  Bob will be contacting the local residents to present this project to them personally and will have handouts for them to keep.  The area that may be (is it borough owned?) be selected is the corner of Crane and Morris where the stop sign is.  This area was chosen because it will be a showcase for the community to see first hand the improvements of the site and encourage more community members to become active in the “pocket parks” in their areas of town.


School Tree Projects:  Bob spoke of the Briarcliff 8th Grader project that will consist of the students to grow trees in pots that will transfer up to the high school with them and grow for those 4 years and end with the planting of roughly 50 trees that the student groups have grown within the borough limits.  It will be viewed as giving back to the community.  The trees will be gotten for the students, so that “native” or appropriate for Mountain Lakes.  Cliff had brought handouts to the last meeting regarding the American Chestnut Foundation.  Members asked Cliff if he would be the one to learn how to obtain these trees for this school project, he agreed.  Cliff pointed out that the American Chestnuts that are growing in town only grow for 20 years and then succumb to the chestnut blight that destroyed the parent trees in the 20th Century.  The Foundation’s trees are blight resistant and would be a great addition to our woodlands.  The Woodlands Management Committee would be happy to offer to be an experimental site for the study of American Chestnut Tree.


High School Scout project:  Invasive Plants.  The committee is not sure where this project is going. Phil is awaiting a response from the Scout.  Jerry Uhrig has offered to be his mentor/sponsor.


Bats: The widespread disease causing death of bats has reached our area.  Denville has sent out a notice of dead bats found in their township.  Cliff explained that the fungus that appears on the noses of the bats is not the cause of death but just an outward sign of the disease.  The cause is unknown but the effect on the balance of nature will be large.



By Martha, Tribe Scribe