Kingston Greenways Association Reading Room

Welcome to the Kingston Greenways Reading Room



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Clifford Zink, award-winning historian, preservation consultant, and author, gave a presentation on the subject of his latest book, NATURAL BEAUTY: SOMERSET COUNTY PARKS. He traced the development of Somerset County’s park system from its roots in the County’s agricultural past through its evolution over nearly six decades into an organization utilizing creative public-private partnerships to preserve open space and serve more than 2,000,000 visitors and program participants annually.

Businessmen and political leaders worked tirelessly to establish the Somerset County Park Commission in 1956 by public referendum, and they adopted a visionary plan to preserve prime open space and provide excellent recreational opportunities for the public. Since that time, inspired public officials and professional staff have implemented and expanded the plan into a countywide network of 26 parks encompassing more than 13,500 acres.

Somerset County parks today include award-winning facilities like the Environmental Education and Equestrian Centers at Lord Stirling Park, the horticultural centers at Colonial Park and Leonard J. Buck Garden, the Torpey Athletic Center, and the Neshanic Valley Golf Course. The Parks also contain exceptional landscapes and natural areas like Natirar and Sourland Mountain Preserve, the largest county park in New Jersey.

To obtain a copy of NATURAL BEAUTY, please call 908 722-1200 ext. 236, or visit Somerset County Parks Commission


Our local eagles received a lot of press recently, as a result of coverage given to KGA's annual meeting on May 10th, 2007. The speaker for this program, Larry Niles, Ph.D., worked for the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program for over 20 years, including 14 years as its Chief. He is now the Chief Biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

In 1973, only one nesting pair of bald eagles was known in our entire state. By 1982, that single nest had failed for eight successive years. A group of scientists in the Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) of the New Jersey Fish, Game and Wildlife department determined to do something about this tragic situation. Through dedication, enlistment of novel surrogate parents, and the relocation of young birds from other areas, the ENSP (with the help of dedicated volunteers) successfully re-introduced bald eagles into New Jersey. Now we have a productive American bald eagle nest in Princeton, and these magnificent birds are well on their way to recovery in the state.

The fledgling rate is 1.3 birds per nest--very good--and about 80 young a year are now being produced.
During the January 2006 Midwinter Eagle Survey, 55 active nests and 192 bald eagles were observed
statewide. Dr. Niles showed data from nest surveys, mid-winter eagle counts, radiotelemetry studies,
and contaminant research (e.g., analysis of compounds such as PCB's-found in alarming levels
in the Delaware River--and the pesticide DDT in blood samples and eggshells), along with
a memorable collection of eagle photos.

He noted the relationship between habitat protection and the protection of endangered species, and
cited loss of habitat as the biggest threat: what he called "the tightening noose." He described
upcoming changes in legislation that will effect protection of these magnificent birds.
The new rule, if passed, will create habitat conservation plans (HCP's), to simplify the
permitting system and provide better protection for eagles and other wildlife. Development
will be encouraged to happen where most appropriate, following the European model--
on the periphery of existing development.

A wonderful coda to the program was provided by Kingston resident Curt Emmich, in the form of
photographs of the banding of a six week-old eaglet.


Larry Niles Keeps Watch on Young Eagles

Click here to see eagle photos!


Photographs of the Laurel Avenue School

Land Trust Standards and Practices

Kingston Greenways Association [KGA] and the Kingston Garden Club Invasive Plant Species Talk

South Brunswick Master Plan - 1986

Village Planning and Implementation Agenda

Handbook of Landowner's Options

National Public Radio Program on Birdsong