2023 Accomplishments and 2024 Plans and Annual Appeal

In recognition of our 20th anniversary on December 12, 2023 we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our donors, members and volunteers for their continuing support. In 2023 we were able to accomplish the following:

  • Planted and protected ~50 native trees in recently-cleared area east of Highlands apartment complex
  • Worked with NJ Invasive Species Strike Team to map and eradicate invasives on the eastern edge of the Reservation (along the border with Cedar Grove Park)
  • Updated and installed Reservation trail signage; installed dog poop bag dispensers near kiosks
  • Identified and gathered dumped trash and debris behind private homes and east of Hilltop Drive, then worked with North Caldwell and Verona DPWs and Essex County Parks Department to remove
  • Worked with North Caldwell administration on the installation of a chain link fence above the Hilltop Drive/Arbor Road retaining wall to prevent trash from blowing into the Reservation, and deter landscapers from dumping yard waste
  • Continued maintaining the Reservation trails network (including some western route clearing work)
  • Made major updates to our website content
  • Posted fundraising appeal on various community websites resulting in boost to memberships and donations

Our priorities for 2024 are to:

  • Improve public access
    • Work with Essex County to improve the western route, including crosswalk completion, roadside clearing, old lamppost removal, roadbed grading and resurfacing
    • Continue trails network maintenance
  • Continue removal of “institutional leftovers” as outlined in Hilltop Master Plan
    • Demolish / remove twin blue decommissioned water tanks at northern end of ridgetop road (Cedar Grove section)
    • Also remove / paint over (relatively) new graffiti on former nurse’s residence retaining wall (near southeastern corner of loop road)
  • Continue wildlife habitat restoration efforts
    • Re-engage NJ Invasive Species Strike Team
    • Engage contractor to spray ~4 acres (primarily small meadow area)
    • Work with volunteers to clear remaining bush honeysuckle at pond site (plus order supplies for spring 2025 tree-planting event, if site clearing is completed in 2024)

How do we fund and implement all this great work?
We rely on membership dues and donations from local residents like you, as well as service groups and volunteers. Your financial support enables the Conservancy to purchase supplies and services, and to conduct events and projects in the Reservation. In recognition of our 20 year anniversary we hope you will consider becoming a member or renewing your membership.

Membership dues for 2024 are as follows:
Single membership: $30
Family membership: $50
If you’d like to pay electronically (fast, secure, convenient), you can use Paypal via the Donate button on our web site: https://www.hilltopconservancy.org/support-hilltop/become-a-member/.

If you prefer to pay via check, please make it payable to “Hilltop Conservancy” and mail it to:

Hilltop Conservancy, Inc.
c/o Theresa Trapp, Treasurer
34 Depot Street
Verona, NJ 07044

We also welcome one-time donations!

Your continued support is GREATLY appreciated and will allow the Conservancy to continue our volunteer efforts to care for and improve the Hilltop for the enjoyment of all, now and in the future.

Signed, The Hilltop Conservancy Officers
Theresa Trapp – Treasurer and Vice President, Restoration
Chris Lawrence – Secretary and Vice President, Public Relations
Geordie Smith – Vice President, Trails