Woodlands Management Committee Meeting Minutes

April 17, 2013                                 


Attendees: Martha Dwyer-Bergman, Richard DeVenezia, John Lester, Jerry Uhrig




The beavers appear to have departed the Birchwood Lake area. It took seven days of persistent effort by the Borough crew to remove the dam and rid the area of beavers.




We are planting 200 trees this year, 100 black gum trees in the area formerly occupied by the beavers and 100 sugar maple trees in the higher, dryer elevations. Jerry will pick up the trees in the morning. We hope to get them all planted over the following weekend, April 20-21. Neither Cliff Miles nor Bob Dewing will be available to participate but we hope to have a number of volunteers from the Community Church to help out with the work. We will meet in the Birchwood parking lot at 9am and hopefully have enough volunteers for four teams, two to plant the sugar maples and two to plant the black gum trees. One sugar maple team will start in the area surrounding Taft Field on West Shore Road; the other will start at the top of the Sled Run and work down the ridge on the Crystal Road side. Likewise, the two black gum teams will start at opposite ends of the former beaver habitat and meet in the middle. Volunteers will bring their own tools, work gloves, and water and expect to get a bit tired and dirty. Seedlings will be marked with bright colored marker ribbon for easy identification in follow-up studies. The Woodlands Committee will furnish the ribbon.
Immediate Future Work


Chestnut Trees


Next month, the new chestnut seeds will have sprouted to a sufficient size to transplant them from the high school courtyard out to the woods. Last year, Jerry took care of this working with students from the high school Environmental Club and their advisor, David Fewell. This year it would be helpful for someone else on the Woodlands Committee gain some familiarity with this project. Aside from actually moving the seedlings, protective cages must be constructed for them. The students do all the hands-on work but it is helpful to have adults who know what needs to be done.

Deer Exclosure Repairs


All four deer exclosures remain heavily damaged from Hurricane Sandy. It is estimated that about eight hours’ work for two people will be needed to complete the repairs. This work should be done by the Woodlands Committee and volunteers.


Work requiring DPW Support


Richard Wilcox Park


Richard Wilcox Park has suffered extensive damage in recent years from bikers who continue to ignore the agreements put in place years ago for shared use and from beavers that flooded virtually all of the bottom land, killing hundreds of trees in the process. We have made a start at turning this situation around, thanks to timely and essential help from Mark Prusina and the DPW crew. Through their efforts we are rid of the beavers and we have one of our biker gates repaired. Mark also directed a tree service contractor to clear obstructions and hazards on the main part of the sled run that resulted from Hurricane Sandy. More work remains but they have accomplished a great amount in a short time, and we appreciate it.


Remaining work falls into three areas: safety, biker control, and access. Safety has to do primarily with tree conditions that need to be cleared. Jerry has discussed some of the problem trees with Mark but a more complete list will be compiled as part of the list of projects for which the Woodlands Committee hopes to get DPW support. The second item will require repairing the other damaged biker gate at the County Park boundary, permanently closing some of the problem trails, and restoring the defaced or missing signs put out as a guide to bikers who fail to consult the trail map on the kiosk at Birchwood. The damage has been done over the years by probably a small minority of bikers but it obviously causes problems for the entire community. Most of the DPW resources are likely to be required for this part of the effort. They also need to be given a higher priority. The third item concerns primarily downed trees that do not pose a particular hazard and yet compromise the use of the intended trails. Once again a list will be compiled and added to the project list.


Halsey Fredricks Park


There are three major problems in this park. First, the upper trail above the soccer fields is blocked by a substantial number of trees blown down by Hurricane Sandy. There is no way to reroute the trail around the tree falls: not enough woodlands is left down there for that. Most of the park was cleared for the playfields so what remains above the fields is just enough to support the trail through it. A second tree fall, minor by comparison is blocking the way through to the YMCA. One tree, but a fairly large one, lies across the trail. We just need to cut a section out of it. Otherwise, it can stay where it is. The third problem in this park is a small section of biker trails down by the bridge to the baseball fields. Two trails, one along the creek and the other a circular trail should be fairly easy to close and block with the right equipment. A “No Bikes” sign also might be helpful.


DPW Projects List


As noted above, there is enough effort requiring DPW resources that a list, ordered and prioritized, is in order. This was John Lester’s request. Jerry agreed to compile the list.


Minutes submitted May 4, 2013 by Jerome L. Uhrig