Newton Introduces Forestry Stewardship Plan For Morris Lake To Ensure Water Quality For Town Residents
Saturday, October 13, 2012 • 2:48am
NEWTON, NJ – The Town of Newton introduced its Forestry Stewardship Plan at its town council meeting on Wednesday night.
Doug Tavella and Dylan Berger are foresters retained by the town, who presented a draft of the plan for the council, and meeting attendees, on Wednesday.
The Forestry Stewardship Plan has been created to help protect the water source for the town in the Morris Lake area of Sparta, where Newton’s filtration plant is located.
“The most important and salient point is this water source,” Tavella said.
He reported that the water source serves 8,500 of the town’s residents.
The town purchased the property in 1894, with the dam constructed and nine miles of pipeline laid down in 1895. Chemical treatment of the water commenced in 1927. In 2000, when the major flood hit Sparta, a half a mile of water mains were knocked out. The filtration plant was constructed in 2004.
Some forest management has taken place since the 1970’s, with timber harvests in 1971, and later, in 1996.
“We want to be sure the water is the highest possible quality for the residents of Newton,” Tavella said.
Tavella said Berger inventoried the forest by tract, and not by “forest stand,” or a community of trees, which is typically the basic forest management entity.
Tavella addressed some of the topics necessary to improve the condition and quality of the forest, in order to protect the water source.
“Silviculture,” or the manipulation of forests to attain particular ends, is one way, he said.
Preserving native plants is one way.
“We need to do all we can to preserve native plants,” Tavella said.
The deer population, for example, has wiped out some native plant species.
The forest overall, Tavella described, has become very homogenous, and degraded.
“The effects of what happened at the Sparta Glen [in 2000], has been carried into the forest,” Tavellsa said. “There are a lot of dead trees that need to be removed.”
Some of the dead trees Tavella named were Hemlock and Oak, which have lessened habitat diversity, and prevented young animals from establishing their habitats.
There are two types of wetlands present within the forest, currently being addressed, as well as steep slopes.
Game and non-game species require management; the Bald Eagle, for example, will be included in the plan, with Federal Standards, Tavella said.
In terms of game animals, there is an over-population of white-tailed deer, which Tavella recommended should be reduced, perhaps by inviting local hunting clubs on the property.
“I’d consider a hunting program, and partnership, I think it would be necessary,” said mayor Sandra Diglio.
Deputy mayor Joseph Ricciardo did not endorse the idea of a hunting club, though he agreed a permit hunt could be put into place.
Tavella said a forest property that is “even-aged” (where trees were clearcut, and regenerated four years ago) adjacent to the town’s, property has experienced a population boom with the Golden-winged Warbler. In fact, the Sparta Mountain Wild Management Area has become known as an area where the songbird has thrived. Tavella said the Golden-winged Warbler could experience a similar boom within the town’s forest area by Morris Lake if encouraged.
Tavella said there are two types of forest management, even-aged, and uneven-aged, which creates a more “biologically-diverse” forest.
Tavella suggested the forestry stewardship plan should include some “fluff items,” such as nesting boxes, to encourage the diversity.
Tavella cautioned the towns should watch out for potential threats as well in the future, including the Emerald Ash Borer, which is expected in New Jersey in possibly the next 10 years.
In June, the town learned about invasive pests, including the Emerald Ash Borer, when a representative from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, presented an informational session at a town council meeting. Click here to read the article.
Tavella said the U.S.D.A would like to help the town implement their forest stewardship plan.