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Hutcheson Memorial Forest Center

Aerial photo of the Hutcheson Memorial Forest.
Graduate and undergraduate students sample plant communities in Mettler's Woods, Hutcheson Memorial Forest.

Welcome to the Hutcheson Memorial Forest (HMF) Center! The center is a unique site consisting of one of the last uncut forests in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as surrounding old fields and young forest. With more than 200 hectares of land under conservation, the HMF Center is devoted to protection of the old forest and research aimed at advancing ecological understanding.

Protected and administered by Rutgers University, the Hutcheson Memorial Forest Center consists of the 26 ha Mettler's Woods, the primeval, mixed oak forest, which is one of the last uncut stands of this sort of forest in the United States. This old growth forest is the only uncut upland forest in New Jersey, and appears on the National Park Service Register of Natural Landmarks. The old forest is surrounded by more than 200 ha of young forest, abandoned agricultural fields undergoing plant succession, and a series of long-term research plots.

With more than 250 associated scientific publications, the forest and surrounding land is one of the most intensively studied areas in North America, and is known worldwide for long-term ecological, botanical and zoological research. The long-term studies of birds and of vegetation change after agricultural abandonment, which have now been conducted for more than 60 years, are some of the longest running studies of this kind, anywhere. We invite you to explore this unique and rich history of land conservation, ecological research, and education of the HMF Center cataloged here or in person on our next tour!

Recent News

On May 13, 2023, Land Manager and Rutgers Ecology and Evolution Ph.D. candidate Chris Crosby led a bird tour at Hutcheson Memorial Forest. The month of May is a great time to get outside and look for birds in the state of New Jersey, due to its location along a large amount of species' migration paths. During the time of spring migration, you can get the chance to view species rarely seen in the state during other times of the year. With the trees in the forest in full leaf, it made it hard to view as many birds as we were hoping to see, but we did get a good view of a few cool species, such as a Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor), a Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), and an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). We were also able to identify a few species in the forest by sound, including an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) and a Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula). Keep a look out on our website to learn about other tours we may offer!

Former HMF Land Manager and current Deer Program Manager Joe Paulin spoke to the Franklin Township Open Space Committee about the struggles farming families can face due to deer over-population and how hunters can provide relief. Read more about what Joe had to say.

A new study unveiled by Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) estimated the financial costs of deer damage in 2019 at nearly $1.3 million among a sample group of 27 New Jersey farmers. Read "White-Tailed Deer and the Hidden Costs to Farmers' Livelihoods: A Case Study of New Jersey Stories".

Through stories that date back to the 1960s, farmers highlighted the environmental damage, safety concerns, management challenges and impacts to their operations as deer numbers in the state grew.