1070 Route 202/31   •    908-782-8536   •     Fax: 908-782-1967

Seal of East Amwell Township

Notes from the Woods #25                                               March, 2010

Our Sourland woods, and environs, took quite a pounding of wind and rain a few weeks ago, the weekend of March 19.  We were away, but returned on the 20th and found the mountain still basically impassable due to downed trees, branches, and wires.  We found that our power had been out for 1 minute, while neighbors to the east along Stony Brook Rd. were without power for days.

Luck certainly has a role in these events, but a careful look at the damage pattern was educational.  Trees exposed to the full brunt of the east wind suffered the most.  In the forest itself, including some of my acreage, damage was minimal. A red cedar in the woods on the west side of a small clearing, broke in half.  But the west side of Stony Brook Rd., recently exposed by a large clear cut in Hopewell Township, suffered badly.  Anything that creates an opening in the contiguous forest can lead to locally strong winds, whether it is a road, a driveway, or a cleared area for a house.  That is why the zoning ordinance for our Mountain Zone discourages long driveways and large clearings around homesites.

One tree that did not go down is the sycamore housing the eagle nest at Duke Farms, southwest of Somerville on the Raritan.  Chicks have hatched, and you can observe the nest at the eagle-cam, http://www.new-jersey-birds.com/2009/04/eagle-nest-at-duke-farms.html
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Earth Day, April 22, will be celebrated at the East Amwell School and all over the nation.  According to Wikipedia, "On 22 April 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated."  It was the idea of Senator Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin.  Sometimes even guys inside the Beltway come up with good ideas.  Those of you who watched the Burns documentaries on PBS on our national parks, a few months ago, realize that early conservation credit belongs to President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter, fisherman, and horseback rider in his spare time.  Another giant in the field, Stewart Udall of Arizona, died recently at the age of 91.  He was Secretary of the Interior under Kennedy and Johnson, and his work in the 1960s set the stage for the modern environmental movement.  Interesting guy, college basketball player, and fond of  50-mile hikes.  Check him out.

Those of you on Facebook may be interested to watch the PBS documentary film, Earth Days, on April 11, interactively.  Everyone with PBS can watch it, passively, on April 19.  And April is a great time to go into the woods and look for spring ephemerals.  Better yet, look for them while participating in East Amwell's roadside trash pickup on April 17.  Call Blaine Hummel at 609-466-2907, or email him at blaine.hummel@erm.com to volunteer.

Toni Robbi
Email: t.robbi@ieee.org