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Governor Dick Newsletter

In consultation with noted botanists and other experts, a group of concerned area residents recently issued a beautifully produced newsletter. The aim was engaging local residents who up to now have either been unaware of the board's proposed plan and/or some major biological issues with it (other than the obvious one of forestry harvesting). Here is the text from the newsletter, for those local to Governor Dick who didn't receive one in the mail, or live elsewhere:

The future of the Governor Dick forest is at a crossroads; the decisions made now will affect the forest for decades into the future.

Governor Dick is a mature forest of 1005 acres, one of the largest contiguous stands of mature forest in our region. It consists of a variety of large, hardwood species native to this area, including a variety of oaks, tulip poplar, sweet birch, hickory, white ash, beech, and maples.

According to a proposed management plan, 120 acres would be fenced, most of the trees within removed, and the understory would be eliminated by the broadcast application of a broad-spectrum herbicide. This would destroy the existing mature forest and native understory.

Many species of animals depend on a mature forest and benefit from old and dying trees, rotting logs, native shrubs, and wildflowers. Opening of the forest canopy and soil disturbances caused by logging are detrimental to forest plants and animals , and encourage the establishment of invasive plants. Logging removes organic material and nutrients that are important for forest regeneration and regrowth. The proposed plan would create a single-aged tree farm with low diversity, and an understory dominated by undesirable invasive plants.

Opening up the forest will increase the soil temperature and cause the soil to dry out at a faster rate. The forest herbaceous plants and organisms like salamanders depend on cool, moist habitats. The exposed areas will encourage invasive species, which the proposed plan would control by treating with herbicides that will also kill native species. Fragmentation of the forest will invite parasitism of the nesting bird population by cowbirds and bluejays, and reduce the number of favorable nesting sites.

Ecologically, the forest is not in dire danger of dying out. The major problem is due to the heavy browsing by deer - regeneration of the tree species is not occurring as it should. If the deer population were controlled, the forest would regenerate on its own. Without the large deer population, the young tree seedlings would have a chance to mature and would gradually take their place in the forest canopy.

Before any action is taken in the forest, a complete inventory of the herbaceous plants should be made, so that no rare or endangered species will be adversely affected.

The area which was logged (by the tower) by Donegal School District could be used as a test area to determine appropriate techniques for controlling the effects of deer and invasive species.

Please plan to attend the next meeting of the Governor Dick Board of Trustees and voice your concern about the proposed forest management plan. It is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29th. at 7.15. pm. at the new Governor Dick building on Pinch Road. Since the board have indicated this is the meeting at which they will be voting on the proposed plan, your attendance is vital.

© Friends Of Governor Dick, 2005