Sunday, December 30, 2018


It's been the best year yet for Herrontown Woods. Through our advocacy, Herrontown Woods is now owned by Princeton, has a new addition of 7.5 acres, a newly planted botanical garden to acquaint the public with native species, ongoing restoration of trails and habitat, better protected Veblen House and Cottage, and funding for initial repairs. Our emphasis is on preserving and utilizing the Veblen's wonderful gift of land and historic buildings, and providing ways for the public to enjoy and learn about these natural and cultural legacies.

Please support our work, and join us out at Princeton's first nature preserve.

·      Convinced Princeton to accept transfer of the 142 acre Herrontown Woods from the county, including the buildings.
·      Our advocacy was crucial in adding 7.5 acres of sloping woodland to Herrontown Woods, at no cost to Princeton.
·      Our work at Herrontown Woods helped prioritize acquisition by Mercer County of 4.5 acres of pasture next to Veblen House. FOHW is working with DR Greenway and Princeton to determine how this important grassland habitat will be managed.

·      Doing the vital work of maintaining and improving trails
·      A new botanical garden: Many workdays have been devoted to planting and weeding a botanical garden, located in a forest opening near the main parking lot. Labeling has begun of more than 90 species of native trees, grasses and wildflowers
·      Partnering with Princeton and Stone Hill Church on invasive species control
·      Stockpiling rocks for use along the trails

·      Began negotiating a lease agreement for the Veblen House, Cottage, and grounds with Princeton
·      Improved the buildings’ appearance and weather resistance by improving the roof tarps and painting the window covers.
·      Discovered and restored some of the original drainage around the Veblen House and added two raingardens
·      Preparations for carrying out initial repairs to better stabilize and weatherize structures

·      New board members and some particularly engaged friends of the preserve are adding their energy and expertise to FOHW’s work.
·      Had our first board “retreat” to develop strategic planning

·      Additional progress towards our initial goal of raising $100,000.

·      Nature walks, plant labels, podcasts, and QR codes
·      Workdays with Girlscouts, the Charter School, and Jewish Center volunteers
·      Ongoing website posts
·      Collaborating with the public library on educational materials
·      Updated trail map

·      Hosted our first annual Oswald Veblen Birthday Party on June 24
·      Hosted our first annual gathering at a lovely home next to the preserve

·      Two articles in the Princeton Alumni Weekly--Adventures in Fine Hall, and at the ripe old age of 138 Veblen made the cover, looking confident and remarkably young, in an article entitled the Power of Small Numbers
·      A neighbor doing house cleaning came across a binder full of old correspondence about Herrontown Woods stewardship in the 1970s and '80s, and donated it all to FOHW

·      Some great articles in local publications about our work

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Brisk and Beautiful Walk in Herrontown Woods

Sometimes cold weather makes for a good nature walk. The forest is filled with light, the frozen ground eases navigation, and the woods is filled with vistas and the evidence of seasons past and future.

We hiked to the cliff, then when someone asked about springs in Herrontown Woods, we hiked to a spring that had been dug out to make a swimming pool of sorts in the 1960s. Now it serves the amphibian community as a dependable vernal pool in the spring.

On the way back, we walked through a cratered landscape where water had accumulated in sizable holes in the ground and frozen in ornate patterns. This beauty, too, like the amphibians' use of the old swimming pool, was a collaboration of nature and culture. The craters were formed back when some of the large, partially sunken boulders in Herrontown Woods were cracked into blocks and hauled away as part of a quarrying operation. Water accumulates in the cavities left behind, and freezes in the winter. But as the ice is freezing, the water below is also slowly seeping into the ground, leaving the ice with less and less water beneath to support it. The result is a lovely terraced effect.

Having seen some of the special places in the woods, some of our hardy party headed to Veblen House afterwards for cider, hot cocoa and cookies provided by Friends of Herrontown Woods volunteers.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Nature Walk This Sunday, Dec. 9, 1pm

Naturalist and FOHW president Steve Hiltner will lead a nature walk this weekend, on Sunday, Dec. 9 on what promises to be a brisk but sunny day. Meet at 1pm at the main parking lot for Herrontown Woods, down the short road opposite the Snowden Lane entrance to Smoyer Park.

The woods this time of year is filled with light and vistas, the better to see the rocks, water and wood of the eastern Princeton Ridge.

Dress warmly and wear shoes for hiking.