Current Status of the Far Hills Office (COVID-19)

During the Week of July 6-July 10

Physical Location: CLOSED TO CLIENTS AND VISITORS

Staff: In office

How do I drop off blank farmland assessment applications and filled out Activity Summary sheets? Mail them to our post office box or slip them under our office door.

How will I get completed forms back, so I can sign and submit them to the correct agencies?  We will mail them back to you by your choice of either regular mail (no charge) or FedEx (charge).  We can also arrange curbside pickup, at your request.

Farmland Assessment Filing Season: Deadline Aug. 1, 2020

We hope that you and your family are well, and that the “stay at home” period has enabled you to enjoy your beautiful woods. Although life has been different for most of us, the deadline for the filing of your farmland assessment applications has not changed. The deadline continues to be August 1, 2020. We are available to assist you with the completion of these applications.

Initially, we will be handling most applications by mail or through an arranged drop off/pick up at our office, in order to comply with current social distancing rules. A calendar of our proposed office hours is found by CLICKING HERE.  Howoever, please visit our website before leaving to see our current stauts, and to see any changes to this arrangement as new information becomes available to us from the state and local health authorities.  CLICK HERE for directions to our office.

We can begin completing your forms immediately, provided that you supply us with the following:
• A completed Activity Summary Sheet (CLICK HERE) or provide similar information. This information is critical for us to work on your applications.
• Copies of receipts/proof of farm income, and other supporting documentation for the past year’s activities.
• Your blank tax forms, if you have them. We can produce these forms for most municipalities at our office, so there is no need to wait to receive them from the town.
• If you are mailing your forms to us, please do so prior to July 15th.

You will need to file your completed tax forms and supporting documentation prior to August 1, 2020, with the NJ Forest Service and your municipal tax assessor, per our instructions. An August 1st postmark is not sufficient.

There is currently no excuse or extension process for late filing. Our goal is for everyone to have all tax forms completed and all required information submitted correctly.

The law requires steady progress toward implementing your Forest Management Plan, and our yearly verification. All trees to be cut should first be marked by us to ensure conformity. The NJ Forest Service and municipal tax assessors expect our regular involvement and woodland activity inspections. We are now required to report the date of our last visit to your property on your Woodland Data form.

The annual retainer and certification fee is $240. Any unpaid account balances must be settled before any forms are prepared. We accept credit cards and Paypal for your added convenience and payment is expected and appreciated at time of service.

Also please note that after July 28 there will be an additional $50 Premium Service Fee applied.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Health and Safety Alert: Emerald Ash Borer

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Since 2002, we have watched the progressive spread of the invasive insect, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), from the first discovery of the beetle in Michigan, to the recent discovery of the insect in New Jersey, in the spring of 2014.  Today, EAB is present throughout the Gracie & Harrigan service area.

Recently, the New Jersey EAB situation took a dangerous turn as the first known injury by an EAB-infested tree occured at Monmouth Battlefield State Park.  Ash trees are known to become abnormally brittle shortly after their death.  EAB infestations begin in the top of the tree, and ash trees have normally been infested for 3 years before symptoms become noticeable to people on the ground.  So, when a chainsaw sends vibrations up the tree as it is being cut down, it is not uncommon for limbs and branches to break off and fall down upon or near the cutter.

The risk to landowners and arborists is real.  We have been told that at least two New Jersey tree services are refusing to cut down dead ash trees, out of concern for their workers' safety.

We urge clients with white ash trees within striking distance of their homes, utility lines, outbuildings, playgrounds, etc. to address the ash trees before they begin showing symptoms.  (Ash trees out in the woodlot that are not within striking distance of commonly used hiking trails could be left for woodpecker and other wildlife habitat.)

It is estimated that 95 to >99% mortality will occur among our native white ash population. There is no known treatment within the forest, however, individual specimen trees in yards and along roadways can be treated with an insecticide  that is watered into the roots of the tree on a yearly or biannual basis by a homeowner or a tree service, or through bark or root injection by a qualified professional.  Now is the time to begin treatment of specimen trees.

What can be done in your woodlot now?  For areas of the forest with a high concentration of ash trees, consideration should be given toward how you want your forest to be post-EAB.  Plans should begin for invasive species control, to prevent unwanted proliferation of invasives following EAB mortality.  Planting and protecting native tree seedlings will help to establish new tree growth, which will help to transition the forest following ash mortality.

Why Do We Do That? Forest stand improvement explained

IMG 0917 SmallForest stand improvement is a very common recommendation under forest management plans that we write, but what is their ecological basis?  Forest stand improvement thinnings can take many forms. Most commonly they are either thinning from below or crop tree management.

By thinning from below foresters are seeking to mimic low- to moderate-intensity wildfires.  Such wildfires were common  hundreds of years ago and helped shape the forest that we know today. By favoring thick-barked species such as oaks and pine, such fires helped develop native wildlife and plant communities and were an important ecological process.  Of course your insurance company would likely not be happy if you started flicking matches into the forest. But by cutting thin-barked species, especially those with smaller diameters, we can get the same outcome using a slightly different process.

Crop tree management is slightly different in that we specifically identify high-quality and or high wildlife value trees that we wish to retain on the property.  Next we identify lower-value trees (either economic value or ecological value) that are competing with the trees designated to remain. Some of those trees that are directly competing with residual trees are designated to be cut.

Both systems are designed to increase the health and vitality of the residual forest as well as the individual trees designated to remain.  Since many of the residual trees are oaks and other thick-barked species, these methods correspond well to the outcomes of light- and medium-intensity wildfires. When such thinning is combined with competing understory vegetation control, we also have the added benefit of improving groundcover quality and improving the chances for developing new seedlings and saplings that should become the next generation of trees as the older trees die off.

As once-far-away disease problems become resident in northern and central New Jersey -- such as emerald ash borer and bacterial leaf scorch -- we are further reminded that our forests are dynamic, disturbance-dependent ecosystems. They will change whether we like it or not.  By following the ecological processes that developed these forests in the first place we have our best chance for keeping them healthy in the long term.

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Benefits

Practicing sustainable forestry  works to:

  • Protect water quality
  • Increase water yield
  • Promote forest health
  • Restore damaged forest ecosystems
  • Promote wildlife through the creation of habitat
  • Yield renewable forest products