Small Is Beautiful
Two land acquisition projects went into the making of this small but beautiful park near the village of Quakertown in Franklin Township. Adjacent to hundreds of acres of preserved farmland, the 35-acre Quakertown Preserve encompasses cultivated fields, meadows, cedar and hardwood forest, and a significant watershed protection area, with springs that form the headwaters of Capoolong Creek. In 2011 dozens of volunteers pitched in with Land Trust staff to complete a major wetlands restoration project that removed a man-made pond and thicket of invasive plants and revegetated the area with native species.
The preserve is ideal for educational programs and recreational activities such as hiking, birding and family picnics. A parking area and trailhead on Croton Road lead to a network of trails that meander through fields and woods to the restored (and flourishing) wetlands. The preserve is also used for horseback riding; trails are maintained with the help of the 70-member Pittstown Trail Association.
A Tale of Two Families
As is often the case, preserving the two parcels that now comprise the preserve was a cooperative effort between the Land Trust and numerous public entities — in this case, Franklin Township, the NJ Green Acres program and the Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund. Even more important was the willingness of the landowners – Hugo and Marilyn Pfaltz and Mary Bodine — to see the properties preserved. When asked why she chose preservation, Mary Bodine answered, “I was born in Franklin Township and lived there for 81 years. My husband inherited this property from his grandparents who had a farm and pastured their cows here. The locals used to call the wooded area on the property “the pines” even though the trees were cedar … I always enjoyed watching the birds and other wildlife … I didn’t want to see the land developed.”
“Enabling people to enjoy properties like this is integral to keeping them engaged in conservation,” said Margaret Waldock, executive director of the Land Trust at the time of the acquisition. “There’s nothing like a quiet walk in the woods to remind you of the importance of preserving what remains of our county’s natural beauty.”
Project partners: Franklin Township, NJ Green Acres program, Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund, Hunterdon Land Trust.