Village of Arden Forest Stewardship Policy

ADOPTED MARCH 24, 2008forestCelestian

I. Objectives and Principles

A. Arden’s Objectives

The Village of Arden has two objectives in its stewardship of the village forests:

Preservation of a natural ecosystem including appropriate wildlife habitat
Enhancing resident’s interaction with and enjoyment of this natural environment

B. Principles

These general principles have guided the development of stewardship policy and should be taken into consideration in interpreting and applying them:

  1.  Arden desires to allow nature to be the principal creator of change within the forests.
  2.  The Arden forests are too small in size to resist naturally the invasive action of the surrounding developed environment.
  3.  Human actions associated with enjoyment of the natural environment can impact negatively on it.
  4.  Management of the forests to achieve the two objectives will require intervention to balance the priorities of these principles.
  5.  The Forest Committee of the Village Assembly is the village governmental body with overall responsibility for care and management of the forests.
  6.  Moneys required for these activities are included in their line item in the annual village budget and oversight of this budget is their responsibility.
  7.  The Forest Committee reports regularly to the Village Assembly.
  8.  The forests in Arden are part of a larger natural system made up of tracts belonging to Ardentown and Ardencroft as well as the Hanby Trust and private landowners in Indian Field, Wilmington Montessori, St. Edmunds and Windy Bush.  Arden desires to cooperate with all of these stewards to maximize the effectiveness of the overall stewardship program.

II. Management Guidelines

A. Boundaries

  1. Policy
    • a. The Village of Arden has set aside large tracts of land designated as the Arden Woods and the Sherwood Forest for public use and enjoyment. Private use of these lands for purposes other than individual enjoyment of nature is not allowed without specific authorization. See the survey of Vandemark and Lynch Inc. (7265-7202-B) July 9, 1962 with revisions through 1974 for specific description of these parcels.
    • b. Boundaries of the forests will be clearly and suitably marked at reasonable intervals with markers which do not detract from the natural setting desired in the forests.
    • c. Residents are not allowed to encroach on the public lands adjacent to their leaseholds in any way that is inconsistent with Arden’s forest objectives.
    • d. Neighbors living outside of Arden and adjoining the forests are not allowed to encroach in any way on the Village forest lands adjacent to their properties.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. The Forest Committee is responsible for monitoring encroachment into the forests from either leaseholders or neighbors.
    • b. The Trustees and the Forest Committee have joint responsibility for enforcement of the encroachment policy.
    • c. Leaseholders planning construction on a leasehold adjacent to the forest must present plans and obtain approval from both the Trustees and the Forest Committee before applying for a county building permit.

B. Erosion Control

  1. Policy
    • a. Intermittent water flow
      • The first line of defense against erosion is control of the source of water causing the problem. Intermittent water flow into the forest from roads, leaseholds or sources outside the village property should be recharged into the ground where feasible, stored and released into the forest over time, slowed as much as possible before entering the forest, etc.
      • The second line of defense, where problems from intermittent flows cannot be stopped at the source, is to diffuse the water entering the forest in such a way that erosion is no longer a problem.
      • The third line of defense will be to create coffers and weirs to reduce water velocity in the erosion channel to minimize further loss of soil through erosion.
    • b. Stream Surges
      • The first line of defense is similar to the case of intermittent flows – control of the source, spreading out the surges over time and recharging aquifers as much as possible. Cooperative efforts within the context of the Naamans Creek Watershed Association or political associations such as CCOBH are expected to be most effective in dealing with this problem.
      • Failure to deal with the water surges at the source will require a decision to allow a stream bank to widen or to reinforce the bank and channel the water flow. This decision will be made by considering the specific location and the expected impact of stream widening.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. The Forest Committee is responsible for monitoring the forests for erosion problems.
    • b. Residents are expected to control the water coming from their leaseholds. The Forest Committee as a part of their monitoring responsibility will notify any leaseholders of problems associated with their leaseholds. The Trustees are responsible for dealing with any unresolved leaseholder problems.
    • c. The Civic Committee is expected to control water coming from roads or commons.
    • d. Neighboring residents and their civic organizations are expected to control runoff from their streets and properties. The Forest Committee with the cooperation of the Trustees of Arden will deal with any problems arising from improper actions of neighbors.
    • e. The Village of Arden will seek active cooperation of its trustees and the other Arden villages in dealing with outside agencies, associations and political groups to work on controlling water surges in the Naamans Creek watershed (including Perkins Run). The Community Planning Committee is responsible for organizing this cooperation.

C. Alien Invasive Plants (maintaining plant diversity)

Local cultivation of many species of plants from foreign ecosystems has resulted in inadvertent introduction of plants into our forests for which there is no locally-evolved population control. Some of these propagate rather slowly and do not tend to move far from their original location, but others are quite invasive, move and propagate aggressively, displacing the native plants and creating a monoculture of the alien plants.

Some of these plants are considered valuable in the controlled garden environment of a leasehold. Examples are English ivy (Hedera helix), pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) and myrtle (Vinca minor). A few were thought to be nice in the garden but turned out to be too much even there – lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) being one of the worst. Some others in our woods are kudzu, Japanese honeysuckle (lonicera japonica) and multiflora rose. The principal woody alien is the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) . This tree is used as a dense shade tree on some leaseholds, but it seeds in quickly and will out-compete native trees in the forest and prevent their propagation. Arden forests are not badly infested with Norway Maples at this time, but the Naamans Creek hillside in Ardentown is completely infested.

  1. Policy 
    The policy of the Village of Arden is to prevent the infestation of the forests by invasive alien plants and to reduce and control those which have crept in during the first 98 years.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. The Forest Committee has primary responsibility for monitoring the forests for invasive aliens. They will maintain a list of plants which should be prevented from escape into the forests. Publicity of this list and action needed by residents should be done by the Forest Committee.
    • b. Leaseholders are responsible to prevent the infestation of the forests by the identified plants coming from their leaseholds. Where past action or inaction has resulted in forest infestation adjacent to the leasehold, the leaseholder will cooperate with the Forest Committee in removing the problem.
    • c. Neighbors of the forests are expected to prevent escape from their property of the species of concern. It is the responsibility of the Forest Committee to educate the village’s neighbors about this problem, to monitor for problems and to cooperate with the Trustees in seeking compliance.

D. Trails and areas of repose

  1. Policy
    • a. Fulfilling Arden’s objective to enhance residents’ interaction with and enjoyment of the natural environment requires public access to the forests. Walking trails and appropriate resting places are provided to meet this objective.
    • b. Since maintenance of trails can be in conflict with the objective to preserve the natural ecosystem, judgments and priority setting will be routinely required.
    • c. The following guidelines will be used in resolving these conflicts:
      • Adequate trails should be maintained to provide access to all large areas of the forests.
      • rails are not necessarily maintained to all weather standards nor always suitable for walking in normal street shoes.
      • Trails should be clearly defined so that walkers are encouraged to use them, but markings should be such as to minimize distraction from the natural ecosystem.
      • Any improvements to the trails such as bridges or erosion control structures should be made as naturalistic as possible.
      • Poison Ivy or other dangerous plants should be discouraged from growing near the trails.
      • Trails should be cleared of undergrowth or fallen timber so that a person can pass without difficulty.
      • Trails should be routed and constructed to avoid creating erosion problems in the trails or stream bank destruction.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. The Civic Committee has responsibility for planning, building and maintaining the trail system.

E. Preserving Trees

  1. Policy
    • a. Since the objective of the Village is to preserve a natural ecosystem in the forests, trees may not be pruned, removed or harvested from the Arden Forests except as indicated below.
    • b. When trees fall naturally in the forest the general policy is to leave all wood where it falls. Trees that fall in a way that obstructs trails or creates potential erosion problems will be cleared to prevent these problems.
      • Wood harvested in this way should be made available to the Arden Club for public use or to residents for their individual use. Motorized vehicles used in harvesting wood require special permit from the Forest Committee, which will be issued only in circumstances consistent with the objective of preserving the ecosystem.
      • Trees that pose a danger to people or leasehold property may be removed at the discretion of the Forest Committee. A tree that is a clear and present danger may be removed by the town; in other cases when a leaseholder demonstrates a reasonable expectation of future danger the Committee may give a leaseholder permission to remove a tree adjacent to his or her leasehold.
      • Residents must avoid any activities that pose a threat to any tree in the forest. For example, driving heavy equipment into the forest thereby damaging the root structure of the trees.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. The Forest Committee has all responsibilities for decisions, implementation and monitoring of the harvesting of wood from the forests as described in this policy.
    • b. Leaseholders must obtain agreement from the Forest Committee before any work that could impact the Forest. See section A.2.c. above.

F. Buildings or other construction

  1. 1. Policy
    • Buildings or similar types of construction are not generally consistent with Arden’s objectives of forest stewardship and are not allowed except as indicated in paragraph II.F.2. below.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. Construction which is deemed necessary to the proper stewardship of the forests or other village property may be proposed to the Village Assembly by the Forest or Civic Committees.
    • b. Any proposal for construction within the forest boundaries would require special approval of the Village Assembly.

G. Cleaning up the forests

  1. Policy
    • a. In keeping with the desire to maintain a natural setting in the forests no littering is allowed. Any trash will be removed.
  2. Responsibilities
    • a. Users of the forests will take with them all trash they generate in the woods. They will also be encouraged to remove any other trash they can conveniently carry at same time.
    • b. The Forest Committee and the Community Planning Committee jointly organize a woods clean-up in the spring, when community volunteers participate in a morning of collecting whatever trash has accumulated over the past year.

H. Procedures

The Forest Committee will develop and maintain a procedures manual, including a calendar, spelling out the actions needed to fulfill its responsibilities as defined in this policy.

I. Use of the Forests

The Forest Committee has been given responsibility by the Village for making rules associated with use of the forests.