Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Featured Partner: Mercer County Parks

Today's view from the FoHVOS Office

After Remembering Ted Stiles, you know that FoHVOS founder, Ted Stiles worked for a decade to protect the beautiful Baldpate mountain from development. 

The Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain now comprises over 1500 acres, making it the largest preserved natural area in Mercer County.  FoHVOS employees enjoy these beautiful views, from our home atop Strawberry Hill Mansion, every day we come to work! 

Driving up to FoHVOS
The Mercer County Park Commission has been a great partner with us and it's time to give props.

Mercer County is the primary owner of the Preserve and they work hard to keep the facilities in great shape and accessible to the public. Today's Baldpate visitors had the pleasure of snow-covered mountain with the safety of a salted and cleared path. 

Hopewell Valley locals and visitors are the biggest winner of our FoHVOS/Mercer County partnership! Our joint stewardship teams continue to care for the
Driving down from FoHVOS
mountain through restoration of forest and meadow, tracking and caring for rare species and reducing the threats of invasive species.  We are now jointly working on a comprehensive Forest Stewardship Plan that will guide our work over the next 10 years.  The plan will guide as we fulfill the goal of stewarding a healthy and beautiful mountain!

FoHVOS has also restored and filled the stone-walled Strawberry Hill garden with native wildflowers, shrubs & trees.

Mansion entrance
When not restoring native plants, FoHVOS stewards and volunteers are removing invasive species and using advanced GPS/GIS mapping techniques to 
track our efforts across the mountain.

The County provides trail maps here so that you can enjoy the mountain on your own.

FoHVOS also offer special guided hikes that share unique insights about local history and ecology.

FoHVOS offices
Mercer County and their catering partner provide a beautiful venue for events.

Whether enjoying Baldpate from the mountain or from the Mansion, visitors can delight in nature and enjoy our own private paradise.

Hats off to the Mercer County Parks Commission -- our featured partner. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Remembering Ted Stiles

Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space
1989 - 2007
While most Hopewell Valley folks know Baldpate Mountain, few newcomers are familiar with its rich history including the decade long fight led by Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS) early member Ted Stiles to save this beautiful land from development.

According to majority owner, Mercer County:
“In 1986 the property was sold to Trap Rock Industries, who planned to expand the quarry that already existed on Route 29.  When these plans failed, the remaining land was destined to be sold for luxury housing development.  Public concern and the efforts of the late conservationist Ted Stiles led to the property’s acquisition by Mercer County in 1998, creating today’s Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain.”

The Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain sign
The Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain now comprises over 1500 acres, making it the largest preserved natural area in Mercer County. 

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of Ted Stiles’s passing, yet his legacy lives on in our continued work at Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space. 

We try to hold true to his vision and passion to ensure the land will be used and appreciated for generations to come.

For Ted, the presence of species like the Hooded or Kentucky Warbler would have further confirmed the great importance of protecting Baldpate. According to FoHVOS Stewardship Director, Mike Van Clef Ph.D.:

Kentucky Warbler
Hooded Warbler
"Above all else, Ted was fueled by an unabiding love of nature.  As an ecologist, he studied its intricacies and the interactions between its components (especially the co-evolution between birds and the fruit they eat). But for him, this was not enough.  He felt compelled to protect every last piece of nature that was humanly possible.  Untiring, he protected lands throughout the state, including adding many acres to the Hutcheson Memorial Forest (one of New Jersey's only old growth forests).  Lucky for all residents of the Hopewell Valley, Ted focused his protection efforts where he lived."  

Ted led or assisted with the protection of nearly 6,500 acres, which is over half of the protected lands in the Valley.  FoHVOS has continued his work and we now have increased our impact to almost 60% of the protected lands throughout the Valley.  A map and list of locations of our preserves is available here.

Our most recent preserve at Mount Rose will open in June 2017. Co-owners include Mercer County, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and Hopewell Township. We know that Ted would be so proud to see that work conclude with nearly 400 acres of preserved land.

Bronze Plaque dedicated at the first Ted Stiles Memorial Hike

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hello, Happy to be here!

As the new Executive Director here at Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), I have an important job as we work to literally save the world, or at least protect our little piece of it…

In my first blog post, I’ll share a little about me.  In subsequent posts, I'll try to provide interesting information, enable investigation, and inspire you to take action.

Many around our Valley already know me as the HVRSD Board of Education President; so the first question folks ask is, “Your leadership role is in education, so why do you want to work for FoHVOS?”

My answer is “because it is a perfect fit.”  Let me share a little secret…  The FoHVOS Board didn’t really pursue me; I begged them for the position.  My dream job is collaborating with a team that directly improves lives -- both locally and ultimately as part of our global community.

In both HVRSD and as I transition more time to FoHVOS, I’m living the dream!

I believe that success is driven by personal connections.  Education and environment are both areas that personally touch everyone and directly affect individual development and future success.  Everybody has been to school. Everyone strolls our land, breaths our air, and drinks our water. A mere moment's reflection is all that is needed to remind us of their significance.

We make a great impact with long-lasting effect. HVRSD educates the most students in Hopewell Valley. FoHVOS preserves and protects more land than any other Hopewell Valley based non-profit.

We focus on positive, nonpartisan outcomes.  Since we all agree on the ultimate mission, we can minimize political controversy by focusing on common ground. Whether discussing education, farmland preservation, stewardship, or open space, we achieve the best outcomes when everyone has a seat at the table.

We partner with families, local businesses, and other non-profits.  Hopewell Valley is a special community that benefits from increasing connections, intersections and relationships.  I look forward to facilitating that growth.

Please stay tuned for more posts and join me on my journey of learning, exploration and action to achieve the healthiest Hopewell Valley environment. 

For an invitation to attend, the “Meet the FoHVOS Executive Director” Open House on March 29th at 6pm at the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain, send your email address to Julia.