New Preserve in Hopewell Named `Mount Rose’

webCarter Road woods

A newly-preserved property straddling Carter Road in Hopewell Township has been named the Mount Rose Preserve after a nearby historic village and rocky summit, and a management plan for the 320-acre property is now in the works.

The land was permanently preserved last spring by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Hopewell Valley Citizens Group with the help of Mercer County, Hopewell Township, the New Jersey Green Acres program, and private donors.

Mount Rose will provide passive recreation for local residents – including a link in the Lawrence Hopewell Trail – while preventing new development.

“We’re pleased to honor the historic roots of this beautiful area and call this property the Mount Rose Preserve,” said Michele Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We’re looking forward to the day when the community will be able to enjoy the Mount Rose Preserve trails, including an extension of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail.”

Mount Rose refers to both a summit on the Rocky Hill Ridge and the historic town that was established in the early 1800s at the crossroads of Carter Road, Pennington-Rocky Hill Road, and Cherry Valley Road. Some of the buildings still exist and have been listed on the registers of historic places.

The Mount Rose Preserve was established in April, when a partnership of a dozen public agencies and nonprofit organizations bought the former Western Electric/AT&T property.

The land – home to the first corporate park in the United States – was purchased for $7.5 million from owner Equus Capital Partners, formerly known as the Berwind Property Group. The site had previously received preliminary site plan approval for 800,000 square feet of office space. Preserving the land settled years of litigation challenging the commercial development proposal.

Major funding partners in the land’s preservation included lead funder Mercer County, Hopewell Township and the state Green Acres Program. Other partners included Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, Hopewell Borough, Pennington Borough, Friends of Princeton Open Space, Princeton, D&R Greenway Land Trust and Lawrence Township.

Private funds were donated from the Robert Wood Johnson Charitable 1962 Trust, Mary Owen Borden Foundation, Bristol Myers Squibb and more than 150 local businesses, families and individuals. Additional funds came from New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Campaign for Conservation.

The Mount Rose preserve will be jointly owned and managed in a partnership with New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and Hopewell Township.

Michael Van Clef, stewardship director for the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space, began collecting ecological data on the property this summer. He and an assistant are identifying plant communities and rare species, and evaluating  the impact of invasive species and deer.

The next step in planning will be to seek local input from the community, including trail creation and maintenance, other public uses for the land, habitat restoration, and the protection of rare species. As part of the process, people will be interviewed and a public meeting will be held.

To learn more about the Mount Rose Preserve management plan contact Kathleen Ward at Kathleen@njconservation.org or 908-997-0723.