Local Scenes
Kingston Greenways Association



The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service event, originally planned for Monday, January 17 has been cancelled. Between the upcoming winter storm, the threat of rain, and the ongoing COVID-19 surge, this service event is being postponed to a weekend date later in the spring.


December 19, 2021

Led by trustee Karen Linder, seven counters helped complete the Kingston segment of the 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count. All told, the day was pretty quiet. Our species count of 38 was normal but our totals were a little on the low side. However, the two pileated woodpeckers and the 54 turkeys seen near Ridge Road the day before the count were definitely highlights. Robins have been very abundant in Kingston this winter, as they are still feasting on holly berries and callery pears. The official tally may be viewed here: 2021 Audubon Christmas Bird Count

April 24, 2021

Two crews celebrated Earth Day by tidying up our shared roadsides, neighborhoods, and public lands! The morning violunteers left Laurel Avenue and vicinity of Rockingham Historic Site looking their best in a long time. In the afternoon, participants collected trash in the Mapleton Preserve, along Ridge Road, Greenwood Avenue, and Railroad Avenue, and on the Rail Trail and Sassman Lane.

There were two special discoveries made in the afternoon: a jawbone (can anyone identify the animal to which it belonged?)

and The Great Beer Swamp, which certainly lived up to its name!


Our first ever annual meeting on Zoom featured an excellent and well-attended program on deer-resistant native plants, given by Rachel Mackow.

Notes on her presentation are available here: Notes--Deer-resistant Native Plants

Rachel Mackow is dedicated to the restoration of native plant communities that sustain and engage both people and wildlife. On the farm, Rachel manages the nursery operation. She authors stewardship plans, lending her knowledge of restoration practices and invasive species management. She enjoys helping people reconnect to plants and self-reliance through teaching foraging skills, herbal practice, and traditional plant uses. Find out more at Wild Ridge Plants


This project, funded by KGA and four years in the works has at last been completed--a major mowing of over 15 acres of badly overgrown fields in the Mapleton Preserve, a very special segment of the Kingston greenbelt. The project targeted mature woody invasive shrubs and trees like autumn olive, Callery pear, and black locust, as well as aggressive plants like mugwort, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese bush clover that are decimating the diversity of flora in the Preserve, and at the same time depriving native wildlife of the native plants they need to survive.

Video of the work, filmed by Doug Miller: October 2020 Mowing Project

The original mowing proposal was tabled due to uncertainty about the potential rehabilitation and development of the nursery warehouse buildings and environs. Once the winery proposal from Old York Cellars was withdrawn, the project, with Jim Irish performing the clearing, was re-introduced. It was fully approved by South Brunswick Township, the D&R Canal State Park, and the State Historic Preservation Office, and had the blessing of the Mapleton Preserve Commission.

To get an idea of the work Jim does and to view a gallery of some of New Jersey’s most problematic and prolific invasives, visit http://jamesirishinc.com/

For images of the newly cleared areas: Post-mowing Views

Visitors to the Preserve will see new vistas across the nursery fields, but also a rather messy aftermath of sheared weeds and shredded shrubs and small trees. This will soften over winter. A second round of mowing next summer will further discourage re-growth. In the meantime, we can look ahead to a new vision for these fields, such as seeding the cleared areas with native plants to attract pollinators, support local fauna, and create beauty.

On the downside, the cutting has revealed the breadth of the problem of wisteria gone wild after Princeton Nurseries operations ceased over two decades ago. The fields are overrun with it, and many mature trees are enshrouded with this fierce and fast-growing vine. Any thoughts are welcomed on how we can take on this botanical nightmare and the re-sprouting of the other aforementioned problem plants!


We decided to cancel our Earth Day event that had been scheduled for Saturday, April 25th, in accordance with the closures of state and county parks and historic sites, and our commitment to public safety during the pandemic.

October 27, 2019

Wet weather persuaded us to begin the event with a talk by Railroad Historian John Kilbride in the Locktender's House--but then Mother Nature turned off the rain and the sun came out, so we walked along the bed of the former Rocky Hill Branch Railroad while enjoying fall colors.

KGA trustee Ksenia points out a railroad tie still visible in the old railroad bed.

About John Kilbride: Now retired from a 34-year (Amtrak) railroad career, John is the moderator of the Camden & Amboy Railroad Historians and Railroads of Trenton (FaceBook) groups, studying the C&A since moving to New Jersey in 1979. Raised on Long Island, the LIRR was an early interest; college and USAF assignments led to wider railroad interests. Historical research and writing remain his strong interests on a variety of railroad topics, including an article on a unique passenger train for a national publication. He has started research on a book focusing on the electrification of the Long Island Railroad, and another on NJ's “Joint Companies.” He advises local historians on specific historical aspects of both the C&A and the Pennsylvania Railroad in New Jersey. He seeks to travel by train whenever possible!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Photo by Kirstin Ohrt

On the banks of the Millstone River in Kingston, D&R Canal State Park Naturalist Stephanie Fox introduced participants to a teeming, fascinating world of water critters, and explained how they can be indicators of water quality. With nets, magnifying lenses, and aquatic macroinvertebrate charts, "stompers" had a cool time in the water!

Photos by Colleen Schantzer:



Photos by Kirstin Ohrt:



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Jim Barg of the NJ Mycological Association presented “A Brief Introduction to Finding and Identifying Wild Mushrooms,” a look at what mushrooms are, how they grow, and how beginners can go about starting to identify the mushrooms they find. Jim is a semi-retired graphic designer who is currently employed as a freelance wild food and mushroom forager for several restaurants in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. He is a past President of the New Jersey Mycological Association and is one of their veteran mushroom identifiers. He also serves as art director for the Association’s bimonthly newsletter. In addition, Jim is a consultant to the New Jersey Poison Control Center, acting as one of several mushroom identifiers who are called in cases of suspected mushroom poisonings. A short summary of his talk follows.

Jim used the words mushroom and fungi interchangeably in his talk. Fungi cannot make their own food, as plants do, so they rely on their substrate (that on which they grow) for sustenance. The business end of the mushroom is IN the substrate. What is visible is the fruiting body, which produces spores--like single-celled seeds. Spores under the right conditions form hyphae, similar to a cotton ball in appearance, which is the way fungi achieve growth. Spores can be dispersed in a variety of ways. For instance, the dog stinkhorn attracts flies to its viscous spore mass, which then spread its spores when the flies die and disintegrate.

Spore prints may be made by placing the mushroom cap on a piece of white paper, covering it with a bowl, and waiting for the spores to drop. The prints can be beautiful as well as useful in identification, due to their distinctive appearance.

Fungal cells are similar in composition to those of shrimp and crabs, as they are made of chitin, and not lignin. Fungi either assist the growth of plants, or hasten plants' breakdown by extatcting nutrients. Parasites feed on plants, eventually killing the plants and themselves, making way for the decayers. But the majority of fungi are mycorrhizals that have a symbiotic relationship with their trees. As the fungi thrive, they serve the vital function of keeping moisture going into the trees.

Tree identification is an asset in mushroom identification, as most fungi are only able to grow under or near specific trees. For example, the prized morel is found only under tulip poplar, white ash, dying apple trees, or dead elms. Hen of the woods is a parasite of oak.

In attempting to identify wild mushrooms, it is crucial to be obsessively observant. There are lots of look-alikes. The macro characteristics must be looked at in detail. These include the general shape or profile or silhouette--cap, stem, and base-- as well as the texture, color, appearance of the bottom, the underside of the cap, gill formation, odor (fresh specimens only),and the presence of a ring or veil.

Where is it growing? On the ground? On a tree? Under a tree? On another fungus? (The medicinal mushroom cordyceps grows on dead caterpillars!) Is where it's growing dry or wet, sunny or shady? What is the soil like? What kind of trees are nearby? What season is it? All fungi have their own season. Is it growing singly, or in groups? Edible chanterelles grow under beech and black birch in summer, and singly--but a close look-alike, Jack-o-Lantern, grows in a mass attached at the base and is poisonous. (True to its name, it also glows in the dark!)

If there are gills, are they attached to the stem, or not? Does the mushroom change color when stroked or cut? Does it produce "milk"?

The Amanita family of mushrooms all exhibit a swollen base that looks like a cup or vase form which the stem rises. This is a valuable characteristic to observe because of Amanita's highly toxic nature. A common mushroom in our area, Amanita amerivirescens,or the "Destroying Angel," is considered one of the three deadliest in the world. There are the "Foolproof Four" edible mushrooms--Puffball, Chicken, Morel, and Inky Cap--but mushroom seekers should heed Jim's advice:

"When in doubt, throw it out!"

Anyone wishing to go deeper should consider getting a mushroom identification guide, and to visit the NJ Mycological Association's web site: http://www.njmyco.org/

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Our thanks to the volunteers who joined us to celebrate Earth Day by removing garbage from our open spaces, woods, and roadsides. The cleanup of Laurel Avenue and the environs of Rockingham Historic Site was ably undertaken by the morning crew.

In the afternoon, volunteers collected litter in areas adjacent to Mapleton Road, Division Street, Heathcote Road, Ridge Road, Greenwood Avenue, and Railroad Avenue.