Land Preservation

Since its founding, Friends of Princeton Open Space has helped to raise over $4.5 million to purchase land and conservation easements in Princeton.  These are some of our land preservation accomplishments:

  • Forestalled an early proposal to develop lands owned by the Institute for Advanced Study.

  • Obtained the donation of land and donated funds for Turning Basin Park, where residents can rent a canoe or picnic next to the D&R Canal towpath.

  • Helped form and fund the D&R Greenway land trust, with which we have partnered on numerous land preservation projects.

  • Helped negotiate, and raised over $350,000 for, acquisition of a permanent conservation easement on over 570 acres of land owned by the Institute for Advanced Study.

  • Negotiated and helped fund the acquisition of lands that almost doubled the size of Woodfield Reservation.

  • Led the acquisition of the Billy Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, and raised over $100,000 toward the purchase price; negotiated the acquisition of Mountain Lakes House.

  • Contributed $300,000 for the acquisition of Greenway Meadows Park, and contributed grant funds to preserve 14 acres adjacent to Johnson Park School (Rosedale Woods).

  • Contributed $100,000 to help acquire 25 acres of Coventry Farm (now Mountain Lakes North) and a farmland/conservation easement on the remaining land.

  • Helped preserve 60 acres of Tusculum, the historic estate of John Witherspoon, and is a partner in its management.

  • Led efforts to establish a preserve on the Eastern Princeton Ridge, and partnered to preserve the Ricciardi and All Saints properties there.

  • Contributed funds and a grant to help preserve the D’Ambrisi property, a crucial addition to extend the Princeton Battlefield park from Mercer Street all the way to the King’s Highway (Route 206 South).

  • Supported the acquisition of Smoyer Park and Gulick Farm.
  • Partnered with several towns and other nonprofits and contributed state and county grants to help create the new Mt. Rose Preserve on Carter Road.

  • Donated $100,000 plus substantial grant funds to create a new, 25-acre park on Mt. Lucas Road that links to many other public and private open space tracts.



John Witherspoon Woods40 acres (municipal park)

The John Witherspoon Woods was given to the township by the Pardee family which formerly resided at Tusculum. Located on Cherry Hill Road, Tusculum was the country home of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and early president of Princeton University. The woods touches the portion of Tusculum that was acquired through a project initiated by FOPOS and funded by Mercer County. The area has streams and large diabase rocks; its flora include mature beech trees and wildflowers such as the spring-blooming Trout Lily, commonly known as Dogtooth Violet.

In 2002, the John Witherspoon Woods Trail was opened due to joint work by FOPOS and the Garden Club of Princeton (among other things, the Garden Club donated markers for the trail). The trail begins at Mountain Lakes Park.

Institute Woods300 acres (private)

In 1996, FOPOS was able to contribute $25,000 to the Institute Lands fundraising costs.  In 1997, FOPOS was able to contribute $565,000 for the conservation easement on the Institute Woods lands.

Rosedale Road Woods14 acres

In 2002, Friends of Princeton Open Space worked jointly with Delaware & Raritan Greenway to preserve 14 wooded acres on Rosedale Road opposite Greenway Meadows and adjacent to Johnson Park School. This land completed the block of preserved open space on either side of Rosedale Road and enabled the school to enlarge the area used for nature trails and environmental education.  With widespread support from the community, the groups were able to pay $850,000 for the parcel, which was appraised at a much higher value.

The Friends of Princeton Open Space hopes to link more Princeton parks and open spaces through additional trails and land acquisitions. These woods, for example, connect the new 55-acre Greenway Meadows Park with existing township land along Stony Brook, the Johnson Park School property, the former trolley line that is now a bike path that extends to Elm Road, and up The Great Road to Coventry Farm and Mountain Lakes Park.

Turning Basin Park9.8 acres (municipal park)

In 1990, FOPOS donated about $13,000 to help preserve this park.  Since 2002, FOPOS has cleaned up this park annually in the springtime as part of the D&R canal cleanup (sometimes sponsored jointly with other organizations such as NJ WaterWatch).

Woodfield Reservation - 107 acres (municipal park)

From 1964 to 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Pennypacker, Mrs. John P. Poe, and Princeton University made about 101 acres available to Princeton Township for public open space–this became the core of reservation. In 1974, Mrs. Poe donated the parking lot on the Great Road, and in 1980, Mr. and Mrs. Kerr gave 2 acres in the northeast corner and an easement to Drakes Corner Road. In 1993, Lanwin Development added a 2- and 8-acre parcel in the northwest area.

In January 1994, when Mrs. Poe passed away, the lower fifty acres reverted to her estate and so became available for sale. Neighboring Tenacre Foundation and other organizations and individuals donated funds and time to enable the Township to re-acquire this half of the park. FOPOS was able to contribute $35,000 for the enlargement, and in 1998, the Demenil Trust added an 8-acre lot that included Tent Rock.

Along with employees of the Tenacre Foundation, FOPOS members have been active in caring for this park by, for example, clearing a metal parts dump in 2002, organizing rebuilding of bridges and trails, and creating the Friends of Woodfield Reservation website with extensive photos and information in addition to the information provided by the township.

Greenway Meadows

In 2002, FOPOS contributed $300,000 for Greenway Meadows Park, the former R.W. Johnson Estate on Rosedale Road.

Coventry Farm

Also in 2002, FOPOS contributed $100,000 towards the Coventry Farm project on The Great Road. Part of Coventry Farm was turned into the township’s Farmview Fields park. The rest, between the Great Road and Mountain Lakes, will remain a private farm preserved from development.

FOPOS has also periodically helped secure funding from the state Green Acres agency and has provided non-financial support for other projects such as Barbara Smoyer Park and the Gulick Farm acquisition.