For more than 60 years, Mettler's Woods, an old growth forest at Hutcheson Memorial Forest Center, has served Rutgers DEENR students and faculty as a classroom, research site, and natural wonder. While ancient oaks and hickory still tower above visitors, much has changed in Mettler's woods since Professor Murray Buell first began to study the site in the early 1950s.
A recent article by the Appalachian Mount Club's "AMC Outdoor" magazine, chronicles the history of Mettler's Woods and active research directed at determining the restoration potential of this old growth forest. Highlighted is the decision to install a deer fence, which at more than 2.5 miles long, was completed in the fall of 2015. Now protected from white tailed deer, the question remains, just how much additional active management is needed–or can the native plant communities of the forest passively recover?
Featured in the article are DEENR’s Steven Handel, Director of the HMF Center, Myla Aronson, Research Coordinator, and Max Piana, graduate student and land manager at HMF, as well as two DEENR undergraduate students, Emily Conway and Casey McArdle. With more than 15 active experiments and hundreds of visitors per year, Mettler's Woods and the HMF Center continues to be a treasured natural landmark that allows one to explore what once was and what may be. More information on HMF Center, including public tours may be found here.