NYC DEP to cull forests in Andes, Boiceville, and Wawarsing

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection sent out a press release today announcing that three stands of trees on three different parcels of city-owned upstate land will be the focus of a new forest management program.

The three sites are 50 acres in Andes near the Pepacton Reservoir, 45 acres in Boiceville near the Ashokan Reservoir, and 60 acres in Wawarsing on the Roundout reservoir. The idea is to cull diseased and sickly trees while boosting the health of the rest, on the theory that healthy forests lead to healthy drinking water. From the press release:

Healthy, vigorous and rapidly growing trees use more nutrients from the soil, which diverts them from running into streams and reservoirs. A healthy and diverse forest also helps reduce impacts of disturbances such as fire or pest outbreaks.

Work in Andes and Boiceville has already begun, the release states, and the Warwarsing project will begin next week. Two of the sites chosen for the work have been severely damaged by insects, the DEP mentions -- the Andes site by forest tent caterpillars, and the Wawarsing site by the hemlock woolly adelgid:

The Ol’ McCune and South Rondout sites have recently been subjected to insect outbreaks that have killed or severely damaged many trees. In Ol’ McCune, forest tent caterpillars, a forest defoliator, are responsible for the decline in various hardwood species, most notably sugar maple, while South Rondout has been subject to a hemlock woolly adelgid outbreak, a non-native invasive, that has changed the look of the entire Rondout Reservoir area.

The three sites are just part of a vast forest management plan for the watershed that's being developed by the DEP with help from the U.S. Forest Service. The $2.6 million plan will have three main missions:

· Forest stand delineation: A forest stand is a group of trees in one area and mostly uniform in species composition, age and structure so as to be distinguishable from other stands. Approximately 80,000 acres of city land was delineated in 2003. The Forest Service has identified the forest stands on those properties acquired since then.

· Forest inventory data collection and analysis: The forest inventory data collection uses science-based forest inventory parameters to accurately assess forest conditions. During the summers of 2009 and 2010, the Forest Service conducted inventory on approximately 9,400 plots on city land throughout the watershed. The inventory data will allow DEP to characterize and assess specific site conditions which will be analyzed to assess the current characteristics and health of the forest.

· Plan development: The forest management plan will be based on the city’s goals for the forest based on the forest inventory data analysis, and other data. The management plan will provide the guiding principles and serve as the guiding document for managing the city’s forest resources.