Scotts Mountain is located at the southwestern end of the New Jersey Highlands in Warren County and was home to a 19th-century farming community. The Scotts Mountain ridge reaches about 1,200 feet above sea level at its highest point, and stretches from Stewartsville northeast to Oxford. The Merrill Creek and the Lopatcong Creek, tributaries of the Delaware River, meander through the area’s scenic valleys.
The largest contiguous forest area in southern Warren County, Scotts Mountain provides critical habitat for many forest-dependent bird species in the Highlands, including the scarlet tanager, wood thrush, eastern wood peewee and solitary vireo.
One interesting feature of the area is the presence of linear piles of stones delineating old farm fields. These stone rows are a result of farming practices in rocky soil: Stones were moved from the path of the plow and set along the edges of fields, and over time the piles became considerable.
Scotts Mountain also contains evidence of the area’s Native American past. Prehistoric finds at Scotts Mountain include projectile points from several settlement periods. The artifacts uncovered indicate a change in the course of the waterways during the past 2,000 to 6,000 years, as human occupation assumed to have occurred alongside streams does not coincide with today’s drainage patterns.
The Scotts Mountain area was altered during the 1980s by the construction of the Merrill Creek Reservoir, which covers terrain once occupied by old farmsteads. Now one of the area’s better-known attractions, the 650-acre reservoir is surrounded by a 290-acre environmental preserve and 2,000 additional acres of woods and fields. A pair of bald eagles has nested and raised young at Merrill Creek for many years. A hawk watch takes place there each fall.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation has been helping protect land and natural resources in the Scotts Mountain area since 2003.
In 2008, New Jersey Conservation Foundation preserved the 60-acre Hanssler/Bossert property, adjacent to the Merrill Creek Reservoir property. The land, a pristine wooded property crossed by the Lopatcong Creek, had been owned by the same German immigrant family since the 1930s.
In 2010, we helped preserve a 78-acre farm on Scotts Mountain using part of our federal farmland preservation grant. Read more about this farmland preservation project >
Other public recreation areas include the West Oxford Mountain Natural Resource Area, the Marble Mountain Natural Resource Area, Lake Marguerite Wildlife Refuge and Roaring Rock Park.
A 1992 U.S. Forest Service study identified Scotts Mountain as one of six “Important Large Forested Areas” in the Highlands stretching between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers. The areas were defined by relatively undeveloped contiguous forested lands greater than 5,000 acres, key water resources, key wildlife habitat, and recreational and cultural opportunities. In 2002, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the Highlands Coalition mapped Scotts Mountain as one of 17 “Critical Treasures of the New Jersey Highlands.”
For more information about our preservation efforts in the Scotts Mountain project area, contact Lisa MacCollum, Assistant Director of Acquisition, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-LANDSAVE (1-888-526-3728).
By Michele S. Byers,