Water and Woods
Water and woods are the motif of this 150-acre preserve on the southern shoulder of Musconetcong Mountain. Springs flow and brooks tumble to Milford Creek (a C1 trout production stream) as it rushes toward the Delaware River. Mature forest in the upper elevations are laced with intermittent streams and expansive wetlands, and in the preserve’s southeast corner is a wellhead protection area.
Starting from a parking area on Shire Road, a trail guides hikers up a steep slope through overgrown fields into a dense stand of pine trees. Views from the upland take in farm fields in the valley below as well as the wooded swells of the Musconetcong Mountains to the west.
The Work of Many
Parking is at the bend in Shire Road, about 200 yards east of the preserve.
Protecting this preserve was the work of many years and no less than four real estate transactions, involving two families, three nonprofit organizations and three government agencies. The largest of the four parcels was slated for a development of more than a dozen houses.
For the Saeger family, former owners of the southwest parcel, this was their Uncle Tom’s country getaway. Thomas Saeger loved the area and often brought busloads of children from his Newark neighborhood to enjoy the fresh air and country living. His nieces and nephews have fond memories of swimming and fishing in the pond, picnicking on the hill and camping in the woods.They were pleased to honor his wishes by permanently protecting the land.
Two generations of the Kolonia family – long time residents of Holland Township with an appreciation for the township’s rural character – preserved densely wooded parcels on either side of Andersen Road, where numerous freshwater “seeps” flow to the surface.
“There are important water sources on the property which we don’t want to pollute or jeopardize,” said Robert Kolonia, Sr. “I feel good knowing I am protecting the natural environment that was treasured by my family and ensuring it will be there for our kids and future generations.”
As is often the case, the initative to protect the preserve’s first and largest section – a 95-acre parcel now owned by Holland Township – was spearheaded by a community organization, the Friends of the Holland Highlands, who tirelessly advocated for the project.
Their efforts and those of all the individuals, families, organizations and government bodies who contributed to this project ensure that generations to come in Holland Township will enjoy clean water, scenic views, and a quiet walk in the woods.
Project partners: Holland Township, Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund, State of New Jersey Green Acres, Hunterdon Land Trust, Phillipsburg Riverview Organization, Victoria Foundation.