Hike the Princeton Institute Woods, May 4th

Ecology of Princeton Institute Woods

Adults are invited to join Dr. Henry Horn, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, for this popular hike, offering an enlightening look at forest dynamics in Princeton Institute Woods.  Discover the life and death in the forest while examining a myriad of adaptations in various species, all occupying distinct niches throughout the forest.  This hike is appropriate for adults only.  Registration is required – please email mpolefka@thewatershed.org or call 609-737-7592 for more information and to sign up. Fee is $5 per person, payable that day.  This program is co-sponsored by Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association.

When:  Sunday, May 4, 2014, 2:00-5:00PM
Where: Princeton Institute Woods, Olden Lane, Princeton

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Have you seen these species in the Princeton Ridge?

Your help is needed to protect high value wetlands and wildlife habitat surrounding the Williams natural gas pipeline expansion project. Please be alert and report any sightings of these species in the Princeton Ridge to INFO@FOPOS.ORG. Include photos whenever possible.
Click here for a map of the Princeton Ridge Conservation Area.

 Wood Turtle – Threatened

Wood turtles are found in and around rivers and streams that occur within forests or meadows. During March, they emerge from hibernation and bask along stream banks. Wood turtles mate in the water during April and move to dry land by mid-May.



Red-shouldered Hawk – Endangered

Red-shouldered hawks are year-round residents of New Jersey, found in forested wetlands.  In late March and early April, males can be seen flying in circles around their nesting territories, calling repeatedly with feathers fanned out, as part of a courtship display.

Red Headed Woodpecker – Threatened


Red-headed woodpeckers are year-round residents of NJ. They are found in forested areas that contain dead or dying trees and sparse undergrowth. Red-headed woodpeckers can be seen hunting insects in flight or on the ground, in addition to the typical woodpecker method of hammering through trees.

 

Barred Owl – Threatened

 

The barred owl is a year-round resident of NJ’s mature forested wetlands. They are most vocal during their courtship from February to mid-April, with peak vocal activity occurring in March. They may call at night or during the day.  The barred owl’s call is most commonly represented as “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”.

 

 

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2014 Summer Internship

Friends of Princeton Open Space is now accepting applications for our Land Steward Internship. FOPOS is partnering with D&R Greenway to offer two paid internships for the 2014 summer field season. Click here for information on the internship and how to apply.

2013 Stewardship Interns planting native wildflowers, as part of a stream bank restoration project in Mountain Lakes Preserve

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Rider University Students Celebrate MLK Day of Service with FOPOS

In honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, a group of 15 volunteers from Rider University’s Athletic Department joined Friends of Princeton Open Space to help with land stewardship in John Witherspoon Woods.

A group of 4 students, led by FOPOS Board Member, Clark Lennon, carried lumber and installed much-needed boardwalk across three sections of the area’s muddiest trails. The additional 40 plus feet of boardwalk helps ensure year-round access to this beautiful wooded wetland.

         Meanwhile, the remaining volunteers helped FOPOS’ Naturalist restore the wetland’s plant communities. They eradicated hundreds of invasive vines and shrubs, including Japanese barberry, multiflora rose, and Oriental bittersweet. The volunteers’ hard work has helped improve John Witherspoon Woods for all its visitors- people and wildlife, alike!

A big THANK YOU to the Rider University students for all of their help!

If you or your group would like to volunteer outdoors with Friends of Princeton Open Space, please contact us at info@fopos.org!

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Welcome Winter Walk at Mountain Lakes Preserve, January 4th

Join Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed’s Education Director, Jeff Hoagland, on a morning walk at Mountain Lakes Preserve to explore the wonders of the natural world in winter. Discover the unique survival strategies of local plants and animals, from milkweed to meadow vole and red oak to robin. Learn where animals store food and how they survive the season’s relentless chill. Enjoy the fun of the ‘Hibernation Game’. Dress warmly, boots are recommended, and bring your sense of wonder. Fee of $5 per person, payable that day. This hike is appropriate for adults and families, children 5 and older.

RSVP is required, email mpolefka@thewatershed.org.

When: Saturday, January 4, 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM
Where: Mountain Lakes Preserve, Princeton NJ

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300 Native Trees and Shrubs Planted at Mountain Lakes Preserve

Three hundred newly planted native trees and shrubs will help restore a healthy forest to
a two-acre restoration site in Mountain Lakes Preserve. The planting was done on a brisk November afternoon by 15 volunteers from ZS Associates, a global sales and marketing consulting firm with offices in Princeton, along with members of Friends of Princeton Open space (FOPOS).

The planting follows on the efforts last August to clear the site of invasive plants and the construction of a fence around the site’s perimeter to prevent deer browse (project detailed here).

All the work has been supported by grants from Partners for Fish and Wildlife, a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with additional funding from the Municipality of Princeton and FOPOS.

The project, spearheaded by FOPOS, has replaced multiflora rose, invasive honeysuckle, photinia, and other exotics with spice bush, winterberry, black cherry, and other native species. The invasives provide little food value for wildlife and threaten the long-term sustainability of the forest. The native plants will help create a balanced ecosystem, providing a vital habitat for a diversity of birds and animals and enabling the natural regeneration of the forest.

A big thank you to the hardworking volunteers from ZS Associates!

Volunteers interested in helping water and monitor the plants, even during the winter season, should contact our Natural Resources Manager, AeLin Compton, at aelincompton@FOPOS.org.

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Your Input is Needed on the Future Management of the Princeton Ridge

The Princeton Ridge East Conservation Area Partnership is developing a comprehensive stewardship plan. Input from the public is essential to manage this vital natural area, which now includes 600 acres of protected lands.

A simple online survey seeks feedback on land stewardship, forms of recreation to be permitted, and essential facilities. Please complete the online survey by November 30, 2013!

Fritillary on native Butterfly Weed flowers

The Princeton Ridge is a unique ecological area in Mercer County that extends westward from the Millstone River and the Delaware & Raritan (D&R) Canal State Park across the northern part of Princeton Township into Hopewell.

For more than 50 years, the Ridge’s forest and wetland habitats have been identified as among the most important and environmentally sensitive areas in the region. Its mature forests are home to numerous endangered and threatened species, among them the Wood Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle, Cooper’s Hawk and Barred Owl.

The Princeton Ridge’s 1,800 acres are being managed by Princeton Township, Mercer County, D&R Greenway Land Trust, Friends of Princeton Open Space, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and Stony Brook – Millstone Watershed Association.  The Princeton Ridge East Conservation Area Partnership offers a map of this newly defined Conservation Area, so critical to native species, on the Princeton Township website.

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4.3 Wooded Acres Preserved

A 4.3-acre wooded property off Route 206 that was once proposed for condominiums has been permanently preserved by a public-private partnership, adding to a green belt in the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge.

The purchase of the Klepper property on October 9th marks the end of a multi-year process that began when the town’s planning director brought the property to the attention of Wendy Mager, president of the Friends of Princeton Open Space, in 2009. In addition to FOPOS, preservation partners include New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Municipality of Princeton, Mercer County, the state Green Acres Program and the Borden Foundation.

The newly-preserved property includes forests characteristic of the Princeton Ridge, with mature trees, large boulders and wetlands. It is located on the east side of Route 206, near the Ewing Road intersection and less than a quarter-mile from the Ricciardi property, which was preserved in 2011 by many of the same partners.

“This property is relatively small, but it’s a vital link in the network of greenways that are being created in the Princeton Ridge area,” said Michele S. Byers, Executive Director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

“The Friends of Princeton Open Space are so happy that this important property on the Ridge could be preserved because of the owner’s interest in conservation and with the help of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, which handled all the nuts and bolts once the acquisition was agreed on,” said Mager.

She noted that the Klepper property is part of a 27.7-acre parcel that was approved many years ago for a 49-unit townhome development, Princeton Senior Townhomes, despite important environmental attributes such as undisturbed forest, threatened species habitat, wetlands, and a large unique boulder field.

The development plan was strenuously objected to by environmentalists, including FOPOS and the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association. A lawsuit by neighboring property owners resulted in a lower density than originally proposed, and fortunately preservation became an option.

After learning that the 4.3-acre parcel’s original owner, Anne Klepper, was no longer associated with Princeton Senior Townhomes, Mager set out to track her down, only to learn that she had recently passed away. Undeterred, she located Klepper’s daughter, Leslie Klepper Arkin, who agreed to sell the property for conservation.

“We were lucky the development was not immediately built and eventually we were able to work with one of the owners to acquire this parcel,” Mager said.

The acquisition was completed using FOPOS’s Green Acres grant, grants to FOPOS and New Jersey Conservation Foundation from the Mercer County open space program, funds from Princeton’s open space tax, and a grant from the Borden Foundation to cover the costs of appraisals, title work and legal fees.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert said she is thrilled at the acquisition of a key property on the Ridge, which she had helped spearhead efforts to protect when she was a member of the Township Council, prior to consolidation.

“It’s clear that town residents recognize the Ridge as a precious and special resource,” Lempert said, pointing to current efforts to prevent a proposed additional gas pipeline from damaging forest and streams in that area. She added that the town is getting senior housing through another project, the Copperwood development, that is much more “green” than Princeton Senior Townhomes would have been.

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes praised the acquisition. “Mercer County is pleased to continue our partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Friends of Princeton Open Space to preserve this environmentally sensitive land on the Princeton Ridge,” said Hughes. “We look forward to the enhancement of the trail network in that area that will allow many people to enjoy it for generations to come.”

Mager said she is grateful to Lee Solow, Princeton’s planning director, for drawing her attention to the Klepper property. “It taught me that you should never give up on a property that is worth preserving,” she said. “Projects get approved, but not all of them get built, and sometimes there is still a chance to turn things around. I especially appreciate the spirit of conservation and public-mindedness that Leslie Klepper Arkin showed in working with us.”

Mager said she hopes to talk in the near future with the owners of other lots that were part of the proposed development, in the hope that they might be willing to preserve their land. “This is not the end of the story,” she said.

The Klepper property will be owned 65 percent by Princeton, 25 percent by New Jersey Conservation Foundation and 10% by Friends of Princeton Open Space.

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Fall into Autumn Hike

Bring your family out for a morning hike on the trails at the Mountain Lakes Preserve.   Tammy Love, Teacher-Naturalists of Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed and AeLin Compton, FOPOS’ Naturalist, will help you will explore the Preserve and discover what the insects, birds, and mammals are doing to prepare for the impending cold weather. Together we will take a peek into the annual climax of the wild lives of wildlife!   Fee of $5 per person, payable that day.  This hike is appropriate for children 6 and older.

RSVP is required, email mpolefka@thewatershed.org.

When: Saturday, November 2, 10:00AM – 12:00PM

Where: Mountain Lakes Preserve, Princeton; Parking lot off Mountain Avenue


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Stuart School 7th Graders Help Restore Biodiversity in Mountain Lakes’ Forests

On Monday, September 16, Stuart Country Day School’s seventh grade class joined Friends of Princeton Open Space for an ecological restoration project at Mountain Lakes Preserve. They spent the morning planting a diversity of beneficial wildflowers in area once dominated by invasive plants.

Last month, FOPOS and Princeton cleared thousands of invasive plants from a section of degraded forest in Mountain Lakes Preserve (project detailed here).  FOPOS staff and volunteers returned to the site this week with a group of 38 Stuart School students, armed and ready with gloves, shovels, and hundreds of native plants. They worked along the sunny edge of the restoration area,  replanting it with a diversity of beneficial wildflowers.   By the morning’s end, the students had successfully planted, mulched, and watered over 230 individual plants, including cutleaf coneflowers, wild bergamots, tall meadow rues, and several other species. These native wildflowers will create a beautiful border of yellow, white, and purple blooms, and provide critical habitat to important pollinators and bird populations.

A big thank you to all of the Stuart School volunteers! They’re hard work is creating a lasting impact on Mountain Lakes Preserve’s forest communities.

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