3rd Annual FOPOS Give Thanks for Nature Photo Contest

The Contest

Friends of Princeton Open Space and REI are encouraging the Princeton Community to OptOutside and enjoy nature this Thanksgiving weekend.  Plan a visit to Mountain Lakes Preserve on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday and bring your camera to participate in the 3rd annual FOPOS Give Thanks for Nature Photo Contest.

Take your best shot of all that Mountain Lakes Preserve has to offer, and submit your photo for a chance to win an REI gift card!

Directions to Mountain Lakes

Mountain Lakes Preserve is located at 57 Mountain Ave, Princeton, NJ 08203.  Contestants can park at the Community Park North parking lot.

File Format

Files must be in JPG format.  Any aspect ratio is acceptable, but please size the file so that the longest dimension is 1500 pixels and set the quality to “high.”

Filenames MUST include your name brief description of picture:

For example:  if your name is Joe Smith and you are submitting a photo of an oak tree, you might name your file:
JoeSmith-Oak tree.jpg

DO NOT send files with your camera's default filename!

In order to ensure anonymous judging, please include no signatures or watermarks that would reveal the name of the photographer on the photo itself.

Entries must be submitted by midnight, Friday December 8th.  Please e-mail jpeg files to info@fopos.org, with Photo Contest in the subject line.


The photographer retains full copyright to his or her images. However, participation in the contest requires the contestant to give Friends of Princeton Open Space permission to use the photographs without compensation on the website as well as in news releases which may appear in print or on third party websites for the purpose of publicizing the contest.  Friends of Princeton Open Space will always include the photographer's name when using a photograph for any purpose.


  • Submission:  You may submit starting November 23rd.  The deadline to submit is midnight, December 8, 2017. (Eastern Time)

Natural Resource Damages Constitutional Amendment on the November 7th Ballot

New Jersey has tremendous natural and geographical resources. Its abundance of clean water, wildlife, and forests, its network of rivers, and convenient location between two of the largest cities in the U.S. makes New Jersey a natural a center for manufacturing & business. With these attractive assets comes a history of industrialization. With industry comes pollution, through major spills and pollutants left behind in the environment. New Jersey’s natural resources belong to all of us. When they are polluted, damages must be paid.

New Jersey’s history of industrialization has resulted in some of the strongest anti-pollution laws in the country, which hold companies responsible for cleaning up industrial pollution, as well as compensating communities for actions that damaged the environment. Payments assessed against polluters to compensate for injury to and lost use of the environment are known as Natural Resource Damages.

New Jersey’s Natural Resource Damages program requires polluters to pay the state for lost use and restoration of natural resources, such as wildlife, habitat, water, or wetlands, due to pollution.  For example, the waterfront park in Newark along the Passaic River and dam removals to restore fish passage along the Raritan River were funded with Natural Resource Damages. These restoration payments are separate from cleanup costs.

Natural Resource Damages are incredibly important for assisting communities that have sustained sudden, unanticipated pollution spills or have suffered ongoing toxic discharges, sometimes for generations. These funds help them recover. But recently, Natural Resource Damages have been raided from the communities that deserve them and redirected to balance the state budget. Many polluted communities are disproportionately urban and low-income. Many impacted communities, such as Newark, Elizabeth, Camden and Linden also have limited outdoor recreational opportunities.

The New Jersey Legislature have placed a proposed constitutional amendment to dedicate moneys from environmental contamination cases to natural resource restoration on the November 7, 2017, ballot. If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment will:

  • Repair, replace and restore damaged natural resources;

  • Preserve New Jersey’s natural resources; and

  • Pay the legal costs for environmental contamination claims.

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, New Jersey voters will be asked:


Do you approve amending the Constitution to dedicate all moneys collected by the State relating to natural resource damages in cases of contamination of the environment? The moneys would have to be used to repair, restore, replace, or preserve the State’s natural resources. The moneys may also be used to pay legal or other costs incurred by the State in pursuing its claims.

Interpretative statement:

This amendment would dedicate moneys collected by the state relating to Natural Resource Damages through settlements or awards for legal claims based on environmental contamination. These moneys would be dedicated to repair, replace, or restore damaged  natural resources, or to preserve the state’s natural resources. The moneys would be spent in an area as close as possible to the geographical area in which the damage occurred. The moneys could also be used to pay for the state’s legal or other costs in pursuing the claims. Currently, these moneys may be used for any state purpose.

Public Question 2 will preserve 3.png

Mountain Lakes is now a Monarch Waystation

The Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve is now a certified Monarch Waystation, sponsored by Monarch Watch.  Monarch Watch is a non-profit organization started by the University of Kansas, Department of Entomology.  On their website you can view a map of certified Monarch Waystations, report a tagged monarch butterfly, and read up on monarch conservation. 

These butterflies are endangered due to lack of habitat and pesticide usage.  Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed plants, as it is the only plants the caterpillars can eat.  Tusculum Meadow and the J. Seward Johnson, Sr. Trail, bordering Coventry Farm, starting on Great Road, are both fantastic monarch habitats and contain lots of milkweed and nectar providing plants.  Mountain Lakes is proud to be a certified stop for monarchs on their incredible migration south to Mexico for the winter. 

For more information on monarch butteflies and how to help their conservation efforts, visit Monarch Watch and The Xerces Society. 

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Friends of Princeton Open Space Receives Franklin Parker Grant

Friends of Princeton Open Space (“FOPOS”) is pleased to announce that it has recently received its third Franklin Parker Excellence Grant, through a grant program administered by New Jersey Conservation Foundation.  Previous grants were used for projects in the 400-acre Mountain Lakes Open Space Area that surrounds FOPOS’s headquarters at Mountain Lakes House, and included installing native plants, constructing deer exclosures to protect native trees, shrubs and plants, and removing invasive species.

This year’s grant will be used to purchase resources to teach children from local schools and summer camps the importance and wonder of the natural world.  The children will be able to use equipment such as microscopes, insect nets and water quality testing kits to study plants and animals in our parks, and will also be given supplies for activities to do at home.

Since receiving the grant in June, FOPOS has already hosted 36 children from the Princeton YMCA Outdoor Living Skills camp.  FOPOS Natural Resources Manager Jeff Geist, along with summer interns Anna Korn and Katrina O’Donnell, gave the children a guided hike, pointed out edible wild berries, identified trees and wildlife, and taught basic outdoor first-aid.  FOPOS hopes to partner with many other school and camp groups to continue its environmental education work with the new equipment.