Dig a little deeper. Get to know this awesome program.

Browse our FAQs below. This section is organic, we will be adding to it as we go. We’ve put over a year’s worth of thought into this program–and welcome any additional questions to [email protected]!


What is the Adopt-a-Plot program?

The concept of the BRCA “Adopt-a-Plot” program is to divide up our Big Woods into individual chunks manageable by a few people for the limited, but extremely important purpose of controlling invasive vines.  By sharing this responsibility, and participating in an inherently educational activity, Bay Ridge families, or groups of families or friends, can have meaningful and lasting effect on the quality of life in Bay Ridge.


How do I sign-up; how do I adopt a plot?

You can sign-up in any of several ways:

  • Visit the “Adopt-A-Plot Booth” at the Jamboree on August 29, 2015*,
  • Attend any BRCA meeting in September or October 2015, or thereafter
  • Sign up online here, or
  • Send an email to: [email protected]

* Adjacent homes to a particular plot do have the “first right of refusal”. Those plots will be tentatively held for those plot-adjacent households up through Sunday September 6th, 2015. Do note that we will collect a wait list of “non-adjacent” residents who would like to adopt those property-adjacent plots, should the adjacent property owner decide not to adopt that plot. We will then contact the first name on the wait list to offer the plot. If they are no longer interested (or have taken on a different plot), we will move onto the next wait listed name.

* Reserve by Proxy. Not able to attend the Jamboree, but would like to reserve a particular plot? Send your top 3 plot-picks to this email: [email protected] by the end of the day, August 29, 2015 and we will do our best to accommodate your wishes!

* AAP Volunteers are given a little priority. This program has taken a good many hands to get off the ground–nights, mornings, weekend–and for some, all of the above. To that end, those volunteers have been given a first pick of plots. So, some of the plots have been taken already–but there are plenty to go around!


Can two households, or a group of volunteers, “go in together” to adopt a plot?  

Yes; this is a great way to make it fun!  Upon signing up, please give us a combined name-phrase (e.g., “Smith/Jones”) that we can use on our website for Adopt-A-Plot status updates, and please just give us one main contact person for the whole group.


Who can participate and is there an age limit?

There is no minimum or maximum age, and students may earn community service credit hours.  We only ask that the contact person representing the adopting family or group be an adult member of the BRCA.


How big is a plot?

The average plot is about one acre in size. One acre, in the form of a perfect square would measure 208.7 feet on each side. For reference, the typical Bay Ridge lot is 200 feet deep.


What, exactly, will be expected of me/my group if I/we “adopt” a plot?

By signing up you are promising, on behalf of yourself/your group to:

  • Visit the site at least once every 365 days to remove invasive vines that have advanced around and up the trees since the last vine maintenance visit,
  • Report on progress by sending email to [email protected] giving the date that you/your group completed its annual vine maintenance visit for the entire plot,
  • Report, at the same email address, any problems that you think should be brought to the attention of the FMC (including geo-stamped and dated photo, if possible), and
  • Let the FMC know of any difficulties that you are having with fulfilling your commitment.

What work will the Forrest Management Committee (FMC) be doing after the Adopt-A-Plot program gets underway?

Plenty. The FMC will continue to:

  • Plant trees in thin areas of the forest,
  • Professionally apply herbicides (e.g. mile-a-minute pre-emergent),
  • Remove debris where appropriate,
  • Remove invasive tree infestations (e.g. “Tree of Heaven”, and Paper Mulberry)
  • Thin our overgrowth of Holly Trees, especially south west of Herndon Ave.,
  • Use “Frank” (our 300 lb Bushmaster Billy Goat mower) where appropriate,
  • Monitor and manage the Adopt-A-Plot invasive vine management program,
  • Supplement Adopt-A-Plot resources as needed,
  • Refresh our formal Stewardship and Forest Management Plans as needed.

Additional volunteers are always welcome. Whenever the FMC plans work in an adopted plot area, it will do its best to communicate this to the plot adoptee by email to the address of record.


How do we know which vines are “invasive”, how do we remove them, and are any special tools needed?

We are after three key non-native, invasive vines:  English Ivy, Mile-a-Minute, and Bittersweet. We are also targeting Japanese Honeysuckle although it is not as rampant in our woods. Tips & YouTube links below tell you how to identify & remove them. Visit your plot at least once per year, and cut these vines where they are growing up on tree trunks. Each vine gets slightly different treatment, but in all cases cut vines near the base of the tree.  In no instance pull up any root from the ground as this could disturb soil and is not authorized by the County.  Our woods lie within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area, and both State and County regulations forbid soil disturbance without separate permit.

Please visit your plot at least once per year and cut vines that are growing on the trees and bushes. Each vine gets slightly different treatment:

  • English Ivy: To remove a single strand of vine, cut near the base of the tree and pick the strand off the tree. For a vine a half inch thick or more, cut the vine near the base of the tree and again cut the vine about two feet up the trunk. Remove the cut piece if you can do so without pulling off bark. Pruning shears, or secateurs, are fine for Ivy. A flat-head screwdriver will help you pull the larger vine away from the tree so you can cut it in 2 places. Do not pull up from the ground as this could disturb soil and is not authorized by the County. A helpful YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U1RD9t0Qhk
  • Bittersweet: Cut two feet or so of vine length from any vine you see on a tree. Bittersweet puts out thin leafy shoots waving up from the ground in search of a bush or tree limb to strangle. New growth can be cut with pruning shears, but for vines thicker than about an inch, you’ll need loppers. Let FMC know if you see vines too large for loppers. Do not pull the large vines off trees as they can be long and heavy and hurt you or others with you when they fall. As always, do not pull up vines from the ground as this could disturb soil and is not authorized by the County. Two Helpful videos:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8R1Q3J0oh8  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdnlf3mLPks
  • Mile-a-Minute: You will need gloves and long sleeves and pants for this because the vine has tiny barbs on the stem and under each leaf. Mile-a-Minute can be easily pulled off trees without damaging bark. Bundle up the vines, place the bundle in a plastic bag, and take the bags home to be put out for yard waste collection. Mile-a-Minute has so many seeds that leaving it on the ground, even if isolated from the tree, would defeat the purpose. These vines cut quite easily. As always, do not pull up any vines from the ground, as this could disturb soil and is not authorized by the County. Helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux5TPpRIcjk
  • Honeysuckle: Remove the vine from whatever it’s climbing on.  Pruning shears, secateurs, work well for Honeysuckle because the vine is usually thin. If you can’t get all of the vine off a tree, then just remove what you can. Bag the pieces and take home for yard waste collection. As always, do not pull roots from ground as this could disturb soil and is not authorized.  Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xckjhCK7iZU

Special rule for folks who adopted plots along Black Walnut Creek: You may not perform any vine removal, nor any forestry work at all, within 100 feet of the water.  This buffer zone is considered a special Habitat Protection Area.


When are the best and worst times of year to visit my plot and remove vines?

To minimize exposure to ticks and avoid disturbing forest interior dwelling birds (FIDS), woods work should take place between October 1 and April 30. It may be cool enough for proper clothing in late September, but please do not work in the woods after April 30. [Here’s a nice discussion of FIDS by DNR: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/criticalarea/pdfs/tweetyjune_2000.pdf]


Are there dangers or working in the woods?

You are not being asked to do anything that you would not normally do in maintaining your own property. You should use common sense and take appropriate precautions. Please keep a close eye on young children and do not bring anyone who has a serious allergy to bee stings or spider bites into the woods.

The normal dangers of working in the woods, include: spiders, ticks, Poison Ivy. To minimize exposure to ticks, other insects, and Poison Ivy, you should wear clothes that cover your body, with a long-sleeved shirt tucked into long pants, pants tucked into socks, and sturdy shoes. A hat is a good idea. Gloves are essential.

Deer ticks are found throughout our woods and can carry lyme disease. The danger from ticks is lessened in cold weather, which is why we don’t start woods work until October 1. Protect yourself by wearing clothing that keeps ticks away from your body. Light colors help you spot crawlers.

Poison Ivy is a noxious vine that grows on trees and along the ground throughout our woods and causes a rash and itching. Most people are allergic to it and react to even slight contact with this plant. Do not touch the leaves, stems, or vines of Poison Ivy!! Old sayings help: “Leaves of three, let it be.” “Hairy vine, no friend of mine.” Please refer to the website for images of Poison Ivy and be sure everyone in your group can identify it.


Is BRCA liable, or can a volunteer be held personally liable, if someone gets injured?

The BRCA maintains more than the amounts of insurance required by subsection 5-406 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland. Interested readers are referred to that code. An unofficial synopsis indicates that persons providing services or performing duties on behalf of the BRCA without receiving compensation are volunteers, and considered agents of the association, and that only in cases of malice or gross negligence can a volunteer be personally liable for damages, and then only to the extent the damages exceed the limits of the liability insurance coverage of BRCA. Again, as a volunteer under this program, you are not being asked by BRCA to do anything that you would not normally do in maintaining your own property. You should use common sense and not ask anyone in your group to do anything that they would not normally do in managing their own property.


How do I find my plot?

Each plot is assigned a color – red, blue, orange or yellow. The color is marked in the forest using ribbons, painted posts or painted trees–shown below.  We will also arm you with some super easy training and a map to find your way through. And you’re off! More detailed information follows.

Ribbons in Trees 
Painted Posts
Painted Tree


Color: All plots are color-coded as shown in the accompanying Adopt-A-Plot Plot program maps. The sides of each plot are marked, approximately every 25 feet, with bi-colored ribbons tied in the trees. “Bi-color” refers to the color assigned to your adopted plot, plus that of its adjacent plots on each side. (For obvious reasons, sides along private property and roads are not so marked.) Also, the intersections where plot corners come together have been marked in the field with four-color posts. So, color coding is the key. In addition, there are topographic and GPS coordinate assists, if needed.

Many plots lie immediately adjacent to an existing asphalt road. In these cases, each roadside plot corner is marked by a bi-color roadside marker as shown in the photo to the side.Individual plot numbers also appear on each face of these painted wooden markers. So, roadside plots are quite easily located. Simply refer to the colored map in your Field Guide or downloaded from the Adopt-A-Plot website for the section of the woods where your plot lies, take note of the nearby housing and topography, also shown on the maps, spot the color-coded marker located along side the street, and enter the woods.

For forest-interior plots (plots located farther into the woods away from roads), use a similar approach, but follow plot edge colors farther into the woods, following the color-coded plot edges indicated on the Adopt-A-Plot map that you downloaded from our website or the individual Field Guide issued to you. Carry a color printout or the Field guide with you in the field. (Let the FMC know if you need assistance obtaining a color printout or need a new Field Guide.) Most forest interior corners are marked with a four-colored 1”x’1”x8” wooden marker mounted on a 3’ spike as shown in the photo above. In addition, each face of the wooden corner marker is printed with the plot number it faces. Occasionally, a fortuitously-located tree serves as a corner marker and is likewise painted as shown in this photo. Absent the bi-colored, plot-side edge flags (colored ribbons) hung in trees, corner markers would be quite difficult to find. But once in your plot, its plot boundaries are quite easily discerned via plot the edge ribbons. Again, we recommend finding your plot, at least the first time, by navigating along the ribbons.

Topography:  The Adopt-A-Plot maps feature 1-foot topographic contours, and this feature is very helpful to knowing where you are and finding the way to your plot.  The woods west of Herndon Avenue have fascinating historical features that survive today and express themselves in the topography, namely, part of Walnut Drive (cut through in the 1950s) and the Bay Ridge railway (1886 to c.1915).  Likewise, the woods north of Farragut have a high hill that was the site of an historical farm house.

GPS: Finally, you may use the GPS capability built into your smartphone to navigate to a location guaranteed to be within your adopted plot. To do this, you must first download the $0.99 app “Navclock” to your iPhone ( http://www.splitrailsoft.com/nav-clock-weather-aviation-navigation-app-iphone-ipad.html , or if you have an android cellphone, download the $1.99 android version of “Navclock” from: http://www.ollapp.com/app/nav-clock/android. Navclock will not give you turn-by-turn directions, like when you are traveling on roads. But even in the woods, these apps give you the resolution—one-tenth of an arc second—necessary for our purpose. Look in the table on the Adopt-A-Plot website, or written on the individual Field Guide issued to you, and take note of the latitude and longitude listed there for your adopted plot. Those are the coordinates of the actual center of your plot. Keep those coordinates with your smart phone for reference when you enter the woods. That’s your target, and you can use those coordinates to “navigate”.

When using Navclock in the woods, be sure the “Location” setting is set to “Always On”. This will assure continuous refreshing of your readings as you walk. (But, this setting is a battery-hog, so turn it off once you’re in your plot.) As you approach the center of your adopted plot, the latitude and longitude readout on the Navclock app will continuously change becoming closer and closer to your target (the reference center of your plot). However, is there is also random error, and the reading will change even as you stand still, so patience is required with this technique. The current accuracy of GPS cellphone technology is only about +/-50 feet, and each 0.1 arc second resolution of the Navclok readout represents about 10 feet. So, together, this is sufficient, given that the size of the Adopt-A-Plot plots typically measure about 200+ feet per side. So, with patience, your smart phone, together with one of these apps, can be used to get you inside your plot. But using GPS alone can be a tedious approach. We recommend taking your navigation cues primarily from the map features of plot edge color coding plus roads and topography, and just using GPS coordinates as a confirming touch. Note: You’ld have to be over 200 feet off in order to be in someone else’s plot and still see the same tree ribbon colors on the sides of your plot. For more information, peruse this PDF of GPS Research.

As of August 16, all fifty-two (52) plots south of Farragut (comprising the areas we now call “Rails and Roads” and Fern Gully”) have been fully surveyed and field-marked with ribbons in the trees. These 52 plots are ready for your maintenance visits. Plots north of Farragut (e.g. in the area called “Highlands”) have not been fully surveyed or ribbon-marked yet.


Where can I park my car; can I park my car close to my plot?   

Officer Mike Olds has agreed to cooperate with the Adopt-A-Plot program.  He will not ticket cars parked on the road shoulder in the County right-of-way that prominently display a “Woods Work” parking pass in the windshield, provided that this privilege is not abused.  He said he’d do his best to convey this to his substitute patrols, but cautioned there is no iron-clad assurance that an occasional rookie doesn’t get the word.

A parking pass is included in a welcome packet you will receive once you adopt, but if you misplace it, simply print a replacement, which can be found in Adoptee Resources.


Can I examine a prospective plot before volunteering to adopt it?  

Yes, absolutely.  Use the techniques described above and have a look see.  Check the Adopt-A-Plot table on the BRCA website.


Why are some of the Plots north of Farragut Ave. marked as available only “prospectively”?  

The reason that nineteen of the plots located north of Farragut are marked as available for adoption only “prospectively” is that these areas still have dense undergrowth or overwhelming vines and need work more appropriately handled by our more experienced FMC volunteers or, in some cases, by professionals. FMC wishes to accomplish the first level of work here before asking Adopt-A-Plot volunteers to pick up routine vine management.   Please feel free to both adopt these plots prospectively and to assist on posted FMC “Work Days” to help us get to that point.


Can I reserve one of the “Prospective” plots so that I can adopt it once it becomes available?

Yes, please feel free to adopt a plot that is currently marked as “Prospective”. If you choose to prospectively reserve one of the plots marked “Future”, the FMC will contact you when your plot is ready, and in any case, you should feel free to participate in posted FMC work days toward that end.


Why are some of the woods that BRCA purchased not shown on the Adopt-A-Plot maps?

So far, our Adopt-A-Plot maps show only the large contiguous forest that BRCA owns. Not yet shown on any of the Adopt-A-Plot maps are other several relatively isolated sections of forest that BRCA also purchased. These include, for example, land at the ends of Bancroft and Lawrence Avenues and sections between Lawrence and Cushing Avenues. These areas also need to be maintained, including removal of invasive vines. Anyone interested in working in those areas should contact an FMC member.


When I visit my plot, what should I report back to the FMC and how?

You must report the date(s) that your team completed its annual treatment of invasive vines for your adopted plot. Report by sending an email to: [email protected] Please also report any vines you find that are too large for you to handle (e.g. that might need power tools). . Include a photo taken with your smart phone if possible. (Note; unless disabled, your smart phone will tell us the GPS coordinates.) Please also report anything else you think the FMC should know about your plot.


How do I opt-out of the program?

In the unfortunate event that you find you can no longer faithfully carry out your commitment to annual invasive vine management, please let us know early by emailing the FMC so that we can work to find a replacement.

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