Welcome back to Kurt Tazelaar, who has played the leading role in trail repair and maintenance at Herrontown Woods and Autumn Hill Reservation since FOHW's beginnings in 2013. Kurt took a medically related hiatus over the past year, but is once again applying his strength and indomitable spirit to making enduring improvements to the trails.
Occasionally, you'll see an old stake topped with some weathered red or yellow or blue paint next to a trail. These are remnants of an earlier era of trail care at Herrontown Woods. They bring back memories of 2013, when a few of us first began piecing the overgrown trails back together. Those stakes were some of the only clues that had lingered in the forest.
Meanwhile, spring rains are once again telling us where stepping stones are needed, as we continue to distribute locally collected flat stones deep into the preserve from stockpiles at the trailheads. There are, of course, lots of rocks strewn all over the Princeton Ridge, but being of igneous origin, they are round and mostly immovable. We source our flat, more portable stepping stones from a different geological era, farther down the slopes, where sedimentary rocks have emerged at a nearby construction site. Thanks to Liping for letting us gather these "native" stones for use in the preserve.
We also appreciate the work of preserve neighbors Barbara and Alan, who have been cutting back vegetation that would otherwise grow over the trails. So often in life, when things are as they should be--trails clear and passable--we forget the care and attention that goes in to making things that way.
Herrontown Woods remains open during the pandemic, though we've had to take Andrew Thornton's popular walking sticks out of circulation for the time being.
While the plants are still asleep, new volunteer Victorino has been building an impressive boardwalk in the botanical garden, crafted out of trees blown down by storms in recent years. Kurt, Andrew and Victorino all have artistic sensibilities that inform their work and vision.
Thanks to the municipality of Princeton and Wells Tree Service for taking down trees growing too close to Veblen House. The Wells were the third family to live at Veblen House, and the first to raise children there, as tenants and caretakers from 1975 to 1998. FOHW is working on coming up with a use for the wood.
There is a lovely pond and pasture bordering Veblen House that was preserved by Mercer County. FOHW recently cut down invasive shrubs growing next to the pond, and is collaborating with DR Greenway on management of this valuable wet meadow habitat.
A few spring ephemeral wildflowers are beginning to poke through the leaf litter along the trails. Here's rue anemone,
and bloodroot, presenting their flowers to the world before their leaves grow out.