2010 PLANNING - MOUNTAIN LAKES WOODLANDS MANAGEMENT
The Mission of the Woodlands Management Committee is to consider and recommend to the Council such actions as may be appropriate to monitor, maintain and improve the health of the Borough's woodlands. "Borough Woodlands" includes all Borough-owned wooded areas, from large tracts designated as parks to the small undeveloped "pocket" lots.
The health of the woodlands refers to all those qualities that promote appropriate diversity of fauna and flora in a natural, wild state, for the benefit and enjoyment of residents of the Borough, now and in the future.
Particular tasks include:
The Woodlands Committee shall coordinate efforts with the Environmental Commission, the Shade Tree Commission, and other committees and commissions established by the Council, as appropriate.
(This mission statement is essentially the same as originally written by Jerry Uhrig in 2003)
Membership Original Appointment Term Ending
Jerry Uhrig, Past Chairman 11/2003 12/31/2011
Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Scribe 11/2003 12/31/2011
Scott Goldthwaite 09/2007 12/31/2011
Phil Notestine, Chairman 11/2003 12/31/2010
Bob Dewing 01/2005 12/31/2012
Cliff Miles 01/2005 12/31/2012
Blair Bravo, Council Liaison
We are seeking new members, who are knowledgeable, willing to learn, and work – especially field work – doing observations, invasives identification & removal.
Meeting date: The third Wednesday of each month, in the Borough Council Chambers
2010 GOALS, PLANS AND BUDGET REQUEST
Continue deer herd management to an overall population of less than 10 deer per square mile. This is an ongoing effort using bow hunting, by the United Bow Hunters of NJ (UBNJ), during the NJ State deer hunting seasons, beginning in September and continuing into February. YTD, 12 adult doe have been taken by UBNJ. Most likely, each would have borne two fawns in late spring 2010. So, the summer 2010 deer herd will be less 36 deer – so far. Presuming another successful season, the deer population of Mountain Lakes may be under 45 deer. If the Mountain Lakes Borough Council, EC and Woodlands Management had not begun (Fall 2004) and continued the deer management program, the deer population would be in excess of 600!
The original costs for deer herd reduction, including the 2004 and 2005 firearms cull by Deer Management Systems (DMS) and 2 aerial infrared surveys were approximately $30,000. The 2005 cull was aborted within a month – DMS reported that the yield would be not worth the cost. UBNJ became our exclusive “tool” for deer herd reduction. We incur no costs for UBNJ.
Budget - $100.00 for an annual UBNJ meeting with pizza, salad and beverages. An informal report by UBNJ and continued good relationships are the benefits.
Understory restoration - As a direct result of a greatly reduced deer population, our woodlands (some more than others), have been regenerating an understory of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and other flora, habitat for a great variety of fauna, also on the rebound. Furthermore, an abundant fall mast (acorns, hickory nuts, walnut, beech, etc.) production took place throughout the region. There was a very meager crop in the previous year, and a harsh winter. This means that our mast eating wildlife (deer, turkey, bear, all types of rodents, many birds and insects) have and will enjoy a healthy, sustaining diet through the winter. Many rodents and some birds bury the nuts for a later meal. Many such acorns and nuts germinate and become spring seedlings. Hoping for a typical spring, we should have an acceleration of understory growth, pressing against the succession of invasive flora. And so, the wonderful cycle of life in the woodlands goes on.
Flora Invasives abatement and removal – Supported by Morris County Parks, Woodlands Management will begin a project of identifying and documenting major clusters of invasives in our woodlands. Morris County Parks have been doing such work in the County Parks, including The Tourne. Our Wilcox Park is contiguous and similar in topology and flora. Invasive species are in common. We have committed to cooperate and use the same tools and methods, freely given by Morris County Parks. This software and survey plans work, done by Kelli O’Connor, Superintendant of Natural Resources Management, is outstanding and saves Woodlands Management an enormous amount of time and field work. Kelli will also guide us during our initial work, which will begin in Wilcox Park this spring. In time, all borough owned woodlands and parks will be inventoried and scheduled for actions against invasives.
Tools required include database management software Microsoft Access, GPS units, removal tools, herbicides and application devices. MS Access cost approx. $200.00 per copy, at AMAZON.com. At least 5 packages are required, including one for a computer in the borough offices. This would be used by a student or other volunteer to load and compile data.
We will also use MS Access for the ERI flora and fauna database development and maintenance. We presume that the borough can purchase a multiple computer use package of MS Access at a better rate than $200.00 per computer.
Several Woodlands Management members already own suitable GPS devices and others may buy their own, however, we would like to have 2 GPS devices for use by student or other volunteers. Garmin “Colorado 400t” is an excellent example, preloaded with topographical maps, and can be bought from AMAZON.com for ~ $330.00 at this time.
In addition to volunteers led by Woodlands Management, we would like to have the Borough Crew trained, equipped and tasked with ongoing and timely mowing and/or cutting of roadside invasives, notably Japanese Knotweed, Multiflora Rose, Garlic Mustard and others, all of which should have follow-up herbicide applications. In time, invasives will be defeated and natives will populate. We look forward to a discussion with Barry Lewis and Mark Prusina.
Replenishments of herbicides and more/replacements of removal tools will be ongoing expenses. For 2010, we estimate $500.00.
Pocket Parks projects – Focused invasives removal work has been done in larger woodlands sites since Woodlands Management was formed, led by Jerry Uhrig. For 2009, we were led in a highly visible project by member Robert Dewing. We chose the borough owned lot at Crane and Morris, which was clogged with invasives, including Chinese Wisteria, Multifloral Rose, Japanese Barberry and Garlic Mustard. Mr. Dewing visited and informed the neighbors of the project, and received enthusiastic support. Woodlands Management spent close to 50 hours during two days removing most of the invasives. It was very physical, sometimes difficult. For example, the Chinese Wisteria had developed thick networks of horizontal root systems, some as thick as 3 inches. Trees were being killed. Mr. Prusina had the Borough Crew remove debris and spoils.
A recent visit to the site revealed that our work was almost complete. We will return in early spring to remove more and apply herbicide to new invasives growth. In addition, we intend to plant “Swamp” Oak trees, (a white oak species), about a dozen, in “bare root” form. These natives are happy in wet areas, and this is a wet area, with 2 vernal pools. Cost for twelve 5’ bare root trees, approx. $360.00. To be planted in early spring 2010.
We have invited Shade Tree and the Garden Club to participate. Native shrubs and wildflowers will be most appropriate and attractive.
Crane and Morris is a good teaching project. Citizens offered praise and support; some offered other sites for consideration.
We will choose another similar project for 2010, and hope for HS students to work with us – and learn; maybe embedding such activity in curriculum.
Educational programs – All above projects; visits to schools with complimentary talks on our geological and land use histories, flora and fauna changes and current status and challenges.
Educational materials – Woodlands had budgeted to buy references for members, but later decided that the library and schools should have comprehensive sets of references about woodlands and wildlife, invasives and management, etc. We sought advice from Morris County Parks and Conserve NJ Wildlife professionals.
A comprehensive list of excellent books has been compiled. We would like to acquire and donate same to our public library and MLHS. Approx. cost - $400.00.
ERI contributions; flora and fauna database development and maintenance – Mountain Lakes EC have obtained grant monies to develop a new and comprehensive Environmental Resource Inventory, and have ask that Woodlands Management develop and maintain the flora and fauna database. We have committed to this. It is a significant start-up, gathering and inputting large amounts of complex information in a highly structured format. Since the invasives project requires MS Access, it makes sense to use Access for this work as well. So, no additional cost is required – just hundreds of hours of work! Woodlands Management project leaders are Cliff Miles, Fauna and Jerry Uhrig, Flora.
Vernal pools identification and documenting – To be included in the ERI. The following has been taken from the NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife web site: Vernal pools are confined wetland depressions, either natural or man-made, that hold water for at least two consecutive months out of the year and are devoid of breeding fish populations. Here in New Jersey, rural portions of the Skylands, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain landscapes are home to the majority of our vernal pools. These unique ecosystems provide habitat to many species of amphibians, insects, reptiles, plants, and other wildlife.
Vernal pools come in an array of forms: isolated depressions within upland forests, seasonally flooded meadows, floodplain swamps, abandoned gravel pits or quarries, and even derelict swimming pools. However, no matter what the structure or genesis of the pool is, all vernal pools either dry out completely or draw down to very shallow levels unsuitable for sustaining fish. Fish are highly predatory on amphibian eggs and larvae. Over the course of evolution, several species of salamanders and frogs exploited these fish-less water bodies. Today, these species exhibit "hard-wired" instincts and behaviors that are geared exclusively towards fish-free vernal habitats.
Amphibians that are dependent upon vernal pools are known as "obligate vernal pool breeders." In New Jersey there are seven species - two frogs and five salamanders - that fit this category. Another 14 of New Jersey's amphibians also use vernal pools for breeding, but unlike the 'obligate' species, these species can successfully reproduce in habitats that contain fish. These species are known as "facultative vernal pool breeders."
Mountain Lakes has a significant number of vernal pools. They are most evident during the spring rains, but many hold water throughout the year; some appear dry only during long dry periods. Vernal pools can be found in small woodlots between homes and most, if not all borough land. Several members of Woodlands Management have taken formal DEP training for the identification and certification of vernal pools. Following the training, Jerry Uhrig and Phil Notestine did survey and type a number of vernal pools, including egg mass identification. We were delighted to find obligates - wood frog and mole salamanders, including the rare Marbled and Blue Spotted salamanders. These are so noted in the Mountain Lakes Fauna Inventory December 2008 (Radis Report).
We intend to formalize the identification and documentation of our vernal pools. This will entail use of DEP Fish & Wildlife tools & worksheets, personal gear including waders, dip nets, GPS devices, maps, digital cameras, computers and MS Access database. We will train our Woodlands Management team and volunteers. Some have already stepped forward.
Very recently, some MLHS teachers and students expressed interest. Assuming having MS Access and GPS, we should incur no costs against the budget.
Budget - 2009 actual and 2010 estimate - Woodlands 2009 budget was $2,600.00; we spent $1,500.00. A significant savings was due to MLHS teacher David Fewell being able to acquire 300 seedlings for the HS Freshman Class tree planting project, which was successfully completed in May.
Our requests, outlined in the preceding paragraphs, total $3,020.00.
We believe that this is a very small investment in our very significant resources – our beautiful, rich and essential woodlands, parks and overall healthy environment. And, the education of our children and citizens.
Respectfully Submitted by your Woodlands Management Committee (the Woodlands Tribe)
Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Scribe
Phil Notestine, Chairman
Jerry Uhrig, Past Chair
Approved___________________________ Borough Manager