This is a guest post, written by Kathleen Gordon. For more background on the Big Woods, read the previous post from January 2022.

The Kendal administration has acknowledged the deer problem and agrees that 40 acres south of Bennett’s Run should be fenced to stop deer from eating the new growth. But they say this is not the year, even though we have the funds!

Adequate funds (about $100,000 is needed) are available from the Environmental Stewardship Fund. There would be no impact on resident fees. Although those funds could also be used for such things as solar panels or an expanded hydroponics operation, there is nothing else as urgent as the deer fence, in my opinion.

In his January 6th memo reporting on projects underway in the Big Woods, Seth invited us to comment on the present approach to addressing the deterioration of the woods.

There are four components to the approach described in Seth’s memo: 

  • Repair of gullies caused by runoff
  • Provision of inventory of trees and canopy gaps
  • Trailhead improvements
  • Clearance of invasive plants from the spray fields.

While I am truly grateful that these improvements are underway, none addresses the imminent threat to the life of this forest community, namely, that there is no new growth because the deer have eaten it.  When the standing trees die, there will be no forest.  The small native plants comprising the groundcover are absent already.  The native understory is mostly gone, replaced by the few plants deer don’t like (spicebush and holly) along with fast-growing invasives.  The tree canopy already has large gaps and there are no young trees coming along to replace the many that have fallen.

The deer in our area have eaten the future forest. A proposal put forward by the 4-Campus Woods (4CW) committee was accepted but not funded by the administration. It states that the best hope for successful forest restoration begins by excluding deer from the area to be restored.  This recommendation is supported by ample data.  A binder, Saving the Big Woods, is in our library. It contains data and reports supporting the work that led to the 4CW proposal.

This map shows the area proposed for fencing by the 4-Campus Woods committee. It lies between Bennett’s Run (near the top) and Kendal (at the lower right).

A fence around 40 acres south of Bennett’s Run must be funded now so that it can be installed next fall.  Then planting can begin in earnest in 2024.  The 4CW Committee agrees that best practice to save the Big Woods is to install the fence now.

If you haven’t already, please email Seth ( and copy Jennifer Allcock, co-chair (, thanking Seth for the improvements listed in the January 6th memo and emphasizing that they are necessary but not sufficient.  The installation of a deer fence is essential to stop deer predation in the Big Woods.  Timing is critical precisely because clearing of invasive plants has already started, providing an opportunity for new trees to be planted and take root—if they are not eaten by the deer.

If you have any questions, please contact me at

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