Twenty years ago, efforts by local, county and state governments, for-profit and non-profit corporations and other entities and more than 300 private citizens culminated with the signing of a contract to purchase 183 acres of land in Lawrence Township.
Now known as Carson Road Woods, the parcel had been slated to become the site of a 200-home neighborhood.
In 2001, the D&R Greenway Land Trust led the effort to raise $3 million in private donations – including $1 million from Bristol-Myers Squibb – and brought together funds from Green Acres, Mercer County, the Lawrence Township Conservation Foundation and the N.J. Farmland Preservation Program to purchase the property from a developer.
On Dec. 18 that year, Lawrence Township government permanently preserved it, making it the second largest municipal park. Thus, 183 acres of unspoiled forest and farmland was spared imminent destruction at the hands of the latest in a long line of developers spanning the previous two decades.
Shortly after the initial preservation, an informal group called the Friends of Carson Road Woods began to plan and oversee the transition of the property from an active agricultural area to a passive recreational preserve.
Starting out as a small group of local residents, the Friends quickly grew in number. In July 2003, due to the growing scope of the Friends’ activities, and the public’s overwhelming desire to participate in the continued preservation of the property, the Friends were incorporated as a 501(c)(3) public charity.
As a formal organization, the Friends maintain five miles of marked cinder, turf and wooded trails. The Friends also organize public nature hikes, conduct guided tours for community groups, lead maintenance crews to keep the property clean and accessible to the public, and have produced an exhaustive historical compendium describing the 300-year history of the property.
The Lawrence Hopewell Trail was incorporated into Carson Road Woods in 2012. It winds its way from nearby neighbor Bristol Myers Squibb on the eastern side of Carson Road through the center of the Woods to Mya Drive off Rosedale Road, continuing on to Educational Testing Service.
To celebrate the anniversary, take a walk through the 183-acre Carson Road Woods with the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Saturday Morning Walking Club on July 10.
For this occasion, all who join will walk approximately three miles, crisscrossing through different parts of the woods.
At 9:30 a.m., John Marshall, president of Carson Road Woods, will offer some brief remarks about the 20th anniversary before the walkers set off from the parking lot off Carson Road, which connects with Province Line Road at the nearest intersection.
The walk is expected to run from 9:30 to 11 a.m., after which Marshall and some neighbors have invited all who are interested to stay a bit longer and learn more about Carson Road Woods.
For more information, visit www.carsonroadwoods.com.
- This information was provided by BTaylor Public Affairs.