The public will have an opportunity soon to review and comment on a plan for protecting the natural resources of the Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain while, at the same time, accommodating appropriate passive recreation. Representatives of the four owning entities—Mercer County, the State of New Jersey, Hopewell Township and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space—have been working on the plan for the past two years. It is anticipated that the major uses will be hiking and nature appreciation, horseback riding, mountain biking and hunting during the deer management season. All of these uses already occur on the mountain but there is a need to define limitations and restrictions in order to protect vulnerable habitat and sensitive terrain.
The management plan recognizes Baldpate’s unique position as the home of Mercer County’s largest contiguous forest and its importance as breeding habitat for neotropical migratory songbirds, as well as plants and other animals. The plan strives to balance protection with public access, the latter being required for publicly funded open space.
Elements of the management plan include habitat protection, trails, access and parking, historical and cultural resources, landscaping, buildings and facilities and the quarry. Appendices will list plants and animals documented on the mountain and details of the deer management plan, among other things.
The Mercer County Park Commission is eager to move the draft forward for final approval in anticipation of a spring opening of the visitors’ center, which will be located in the refurbished main house at the top of the mountain. Other improvements include parking at both Fiddler’s Creek Road and Pleasant Valley Road and limited parking at the top.
We expect that the Management Plan will be on the agenda of a Park Commission meeting in early spring. If you would like to be notified via email when that will occur—and it could be on very short notice—send an email to Pat Sziber at SziBird@aol.com with "Baldpate Management Plan" in the subject line and she will add your email address to a distribution list.