Assessing Deer Impacts to Our Forests w/ AVID Plots!

How are deer shaping your forests?

AVID is a project to Assess Vegetation for Impacts from Deer. Plants are monitored each year to evaluate the impact of deer browsing. AVID is a method for volunteers, foresters, landowners and others to measure the effect of deer browse on New York forests. Volunteers are encouraged to use AVID to document this aspect of New York forest health. Participants will learn about forest and woodland ecology, how to identify spring wildflowers and trees, and develop an eye for recognizing signs of deer impacts.

Individuals can use AVID by printing field data sheets and entering the data online here at this web site, or through a smart phone app available for either Apple or Android phones at Apple Store or Google Play Store. Field data collected by individuals and organizations across New York State, and submitted to this central database, will be used to track tree, shrub and wildflower response to deer browsing over time. Knowledge of how deer impacts change through time will help guide deer management decisions at local and state levels. Participants will document changes in forest plants on their own land, or land in their communities, and also will learn:

  • To identify important spring wildflower and tree species
  • To recognize evidence of deer impacts based on the presence or absence of key wildflower, shrub, and tree indicator species

If this is something that sounds interesting to you, please visit

Featured Master Naturalist: Aimee Lusty

Master Naturalist 17′ – 47 training hours, 30 volunteering hours!

Aimee has been hard at work with the Group for the East End, conducting osprey nest surveys. Last winter, Aimee surveyed  35 osprey nests and platforms located in East Hampton, Amagansett, Springs, Napeague and Montauk, to determine the viability of platforms and the past year’s nesting activity. Data she collected included size of the nest, condition of the platforms, platform location, and whether any are in need of repair. During the summer Aimee revisited 25 of the 35 osprey nesting platforms and collected information on nest activity. For active nests, she counted the number of adults and young. One of the nests Aimee found was in a tree and had not been previously recorded!

In addition to monitoring osprey nests, Aimee also has been helping Cornell Cooperative Extension and New York City Audubon monitor the Atlantic horseshoe crab population at Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The effort involved monitoring spawning activity at 2 sites, using a quadrat method to sample and count horseshoe crabs mating and laying eggs along shoreline. When a horseshoe crab was found, she would assign the crab a number, measure it, and attach a tag to allow re-identification over time.

Aimee is also interested in plants and volunteers with the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, where she has been assigned 3 populations of rare or endangered plants to monitor along a New York portion of the Appalachian Trail Corridor.  For this project, she located and counted the number of plants in each population, documented and identified the local soil type, recorded possible threats, and recorded neighboring native and invasive plant species.



In addition to monitoring rare plants, Aimee participated in a restoration project with the NYC Parks Department. The project included identifying and removing invasive Japanese knotweed and Japanese honeysuckle in a coastal forest area of Idlewild Park in Queens. A wetland at the site was also enhanced by removing debris from the area.

Congratulations Aimee! Thank you for your efforts to monitor and conserve wildlife and rare plants, and to restore native habitats!

To see more of Aimee’s beautiful artwork, visit her site at