D&R Greenway Land Trust announces a new milestone: preservation of the 300th property permanently protected since the organization’s founding in 1989. Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve, in Pennington, comprises more than 146 acres of green forests. Together with a second, contiguous site recently protected, there are now more than 175 acres newly preserved. These lands are a vital piece of the Delaware River watershed.
“The Woosamonsa Ridge project could not have been accomplished without forward-thinking landowners Jay and Amy Regan, longtime area residents and philanthropists,” said D&R Greenway trustee, Richard Goldman. “In anticipation of moving away to be near their grown children, they sought to work with D&R Greenway. In addition to the two properties preserved as natural areas, the Regans are protecting a third large parcel that will be conserved as agricultural land.”
By preserving the properties, Amy Regan and her husband say they are paying forward their family’s connection to the land. “Our children grew up on this land and our grandchildren love to play in the woods. By ensuring its permanent preservation, it makes it easier for us to move on, knowing that the land is protected and our children and grandchildren can come back and still enjoy it.”
The Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve succeeded through a collaborative effort spearheaded by D&R Greenway and accomplished with the help of nonprofit and public partners: Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), The Nature Conservancy, New Jersey Green Acres Program, Hopewell Township and Mercer County’s Open Space Fund.
“The preservation of this property is an example of the cooperative partnerships that Mercer County undertakes with local governments and land conservancy organizations such as the D&R Greenway,” says Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “The county is pleased to have provided funding for Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve, which will serve to protect the environment and provide outdoor recreation today and for future generations.”
Hopewell Township partnered with D&R Greenway to buy the adjacent piece of land located next to open space they already own, expanding protection of the scenic viewscape next to the Harbourton historic cemetery. Mayor Kevin D. Kuchinski added, “We are committed to protecting Hopewell Valley’s rural character through open space acquisitions and preserved farmland. The Woosamonsa Ridge project continues in this tradition and will help us extend our network of trails, protect our drinking water and the environment, and ensure this land remains pristine for the enjoyment of generations to come.”
FoHVOS will play a unique role by co-managing the land with D&R Greenway. “Preserving Woosamonsa Ridge will help assure the bucolic character of Hopewell Valley, says Lisa Wolff, Executive Director of FoHVOS. “It is important to preserve the unique natural features of this forested site that includes a section of the Jacobs Creek bordered by high ridges.”
By joining forces, the two land trusts will ensure two major goals, caring for the mountain’s unique conservation resources and providing public access trails where hikers can enjoy birding and the benefits of the great outdoors. The NJ Trails Association, a group of local volunteers led by D&R Greenway former chair Alan Hershey, will soon begin improvements on old trails and create new walking trails on the mountain.
The new Woosamonsa Ridge preserve spills down the south side of Pennington Mountain. Like its neighbors Baldpate Mountain to the west, Sourland Mountain to the north and Princeton Ridge to the east, Pennington Mountain is a survivor: a remnant of volcanic magma that was squeezed up into older sedimentary rocks some150 million years ago. Cooled and hardened into the igneous black rock called diabase or “trap” rock, it withstood eons of erosion that whittled away the surrounding shale and sandstone, and it now stands sentinel over Hopewell Valley 350 feet below.
Oaks —black, white, red and chestnut— together with numerous other tree species, abound in this forested paradise. Many of these trees are large, mature specimens, because the steep mountainside long resisted clearing for agriculture. The extensive unbroken forest is nesting habitat for colorful migrant songbirds.
“This region of Hopewell has some of the best remaining blocks of unpreserved, ecologically important and highly resilient lands in Mercer County,” said Barbara Brummer, State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “We are so pleased to have partnered with D&R Greenway on the protection of this new preserve and their 300th property; these partnerships are so essential to protecting the most critical lands in New Jersey.”
D&R Greenway Land Trust is recognized for its skill in managing land preservation projects. “Who would have thought that before our 30th anniversary, D&R Greenway would have achieved the preservation of 300 properties,” says Linda Mead, President & CEO of the land trust. “We are excited to share this new preserve with the community by opening new trails for all to enjoy.”
To learn more, please visit www.drgreenway.org.