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 AdoptaPlot@bayridge.org!


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?

  • Send an email to: AdoptaPlot@bayridge.org and indicate which plot you would like.

* Plots Available:  As of August 25, 2018, sixteen plots remain available for adoption.  In the Rails & Roads section of the forest, plot #8 is available. In Fern Gully, plot # 52 is available; and in Highlands (north of Farragut and mostly in the western-most area) the following plots (recently released) are available: 61, 62, 77, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 88 and 89.   


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.  Students may earn community Service Credit Hours by arrangement with their Guidance Counselors.  We do ask that the Contact Person representing the adopting family or group be an adult.  You need not be a member of BRCA in order to perform this voluntary service.  As of August 25, 2018 two households in neighboring Annapolis Cove have adopted plots.


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 within one year of adopting it, and thereafter, at least once every three years,
  • Remove invasive vines that have advanced around and up the trees since the last vine maintenance visit,
  • Report on progress in one of two ways:
    • By sending email to BRCA.AdoptAPlot@bayridge.gmail.com giving the date that you/your group completed its annual vine maintenance visit for the entire plot, or
    • By filling out the “Reporting” form on the Resources page.
  • Report, 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, such as a vine that requires heavier cutting than you can manage.

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

Plenty. The FMC continues to:

  • Plant trees in thin areas of the forest (we have planted over 100 trees already),
  • 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,
  • Refresh our formal Stewardship and Forest Management Plans as needed.
  • Supplement Adopt-A-Plot resources as needed (e.g. when the need for extra help is reported by an adopting family),
    • “Woods Work Days” are scheduled at least 4 days per year, and ad hoc additional volunteer help is always welcomed.

Whenever the FMC plans professional work (e.g. the use of herbicides) 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 ground at base of the tree and then cut the same vine again, up the trunk at about shoulder-height.  The University of Maryland Extension Service advises, especially for well-established English Ivy vines, that you want to get as much of the vine removed from the tree as you can reach.  At the same time, it is important to minimize damage to the tree’s bark. This can be difficult. Pruning shears, or secateurs, are fine for Ivy smaller vines. A flat-head screwdriver will help you pull the larger vine away from the tree so you can cut it in 2 places, and pull the cut-out section completely off the tree. 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, but please also seehttps://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/english-ivy-control/.  The proper result is pictured to the right.
  • 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 and how to protect from ticks?

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.

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.

Deer ticks are found throughout our woods and carry lyme disease. The danger from ticks is lessened in cold weather, which is why we recommend conducting your Adopt-A-Plot activity in the woods only during October through April (avoid the woods May through September).  In any event, protect yourself by wearing clothing that keeps ticks away from your body. Light colors help you spot crawlers. Important:  Tuck pant legs in to your socks and spray well with DEET.  Most preferably, pre-treat your forest clothing with 0.5% permethrin (e.g., Sawyers) and let dry 6 hours before wearing.

Tick Information:

These two sites were specifically recommended to us by the University of Maryland Extension Service:
Ticks in Maryland | University of Maryland Extension (umd.edu)

Short Informative Videos from Authoritative Sources:

Lyme Disease from Ticks are a big deal:

Experts talk about how to avoid lyme desease:

How to dress:

Permethrin, How to Use:

Will Permethrin Harm cats / What happens if a cat eats a mouse with permethrin on its fur?
“Permethrin should not be applied directly to cats. However, the EPA has no published reports, nor records of any incidents associated with the use of permethrin-treated tick tubes. Furthermore, a toxicity study shows that a small cat of 3 or 4 pounds would have to eat more than 100 permethrin-covered mice per day to show any adverse effects. Most cats don’t eat more than 6 mice per month, indicating the risk of exposure is minimal.”

How to Safely Remove Tick from Skin:


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.
[threecol_one_first] ribbontree
Ribbons in Trees [/threecol_one_first][threecol_one]post
Painted Posts[/threecol_one][threecol_one_last]patinttree
Painted Tree[/threecol_one_last]


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”x 8” 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 farmhouse.

Mobile GPS App:  Finally, you may use your iPhone or Android Smartphone to navigate to your plot.  To do this, simply type “Adopt-A-Plot” into the search box of the app store where you get apps for your mobile device, and download the app.


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

Our County Special Police Officer 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 will be provided if requested once you adopt, or you can print one which can be found in Adoptee Resources.

What about trees in the BRCA Commons Area?  

Our Adopt-A-Plot Program covers all of the forest (commonly referred to as “The Big Woods”) that is subject to a Conservation Easement (CE) and required under that easement’s Forest Stewardship Plan to be managed by BRCA against invasive vines.  In addition to the CE area, BRCA owns about 10 acres of additional lands (called the BRCA “Commons”) chiefly located around the perimeter of the community, the marina and pool grounds.  The FMC has worked with the BRCA Commons Committee to expand this volunteer vine management program to the Commons areas.  Using the Adopt-A–Plot app on your iPhone or smart phone, go the “Choose Plot” screen and select “BRCA Commons” to see those plots (marked “A” through “N”).  Please contact the BRCA Commons Committee to adopt one of the plots in the Commons Area.

What about trees on private residential lots?  Please consider applying these invasive vine management techniques to the trees on your own private property as well.


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

This is an important responsibility.  Please be sure to report the date(s) that you or your adopting team visited your site to manage invasive vines on your adopted plot. Please report by sending an email to: BRCA.AdoptAPlot@gmail.com or use the reporting form located under “Resources” on this website home page.  Please also report any vines you find that are too large for you to handle (e.g. that might require power tools to remove) without harming bark.  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 BRCA.AdoptAPlot@gmail.com so that we can work to find a replacement.

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