NALT is partnering with the Whitman Woods Project to create a sanctuary at Laurel Lake and a living tribute to America’s most beloved bard: Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman took great joy in walking the banks of Laurel Lake in what is now Laurel Springs, New Jersey. The influences of the Natural World he encountered here resonate through the centuries in his most legendary works, including Specimen Days and portions of Leaves of Grass.
This last significant parcel of undeveloped woodland along the lakeshore where Whitman found enduring inspiration is a rare remnant of the now near-relic native Inner Coastal Plain Forest as it existed in Whitman’s day, and the centerpiece of Whitman Woods Project. The towering canopy that distinguishes the 3.75-acre parcel provides the desired ambiance for a passive park. Conservation will provide a physical platform to carry out the project Mission: “Distill Nature, History, Art & Science as a living legacy that honors poet Walt Whitman and forever preserves vital open space.”
Owned since 1925 by the same family, this private tract of wooded lakefront land in the built-out Borough of Laurel Springs has been considered a park in all but name for nearly 50 years. Urban dwellers seek sanctuary here. Recently returned Bald Eagles hunt here. Children experience wildlife here, recite poetry here, draw and paint here. Canoes are launched here. Naturalists bird here. Photographers capture Nature here. Peace is found here.
In 2006, Camden County Open Space (CCOS) approached then-owner Elizabeth Hanson Kuehner to explore the purchase of this site, but she was too ill at the time to consider it. After her 2009 death, her heirs reopened conversations with CCOS, and in 2010 the Borough Council confirmed its support of “Elizabeth Hanson Kuehner Trust’s Plans for Passive Recreational Space” in a formal resolution. By 2011, however, CCOS was no longer permitted by the county freeholders to acquire pocket parks unless contiguous to existing parks.
After an epic search for the ideal steward, North American Land Trust (NALT) was enlisted in 2015 to facilitate the conservation of this wooded tract in densely populated Camden County. NALT is a national organization committed to conserving and restoring natural and cultural lands for present and future generations. NALT ownership will be a seamless and profoundly organic conservation solution. To succeed, NALT must raise $1 million to endow, own, steward and manage the passive park in perpetuity.
The family trust that holds the land is now depleted and faces dissolution. Funding “Whitman Woods” this year is crucial. Saving this rare, wooded tract from development in the locale where Whitman famously sought renewal in the embrace of Nature defines the Whitman Woods Project vision.
You can help save this park forever by donating here.
If you would prefer to make a pledge that won’t be called until we do reach our goal, please download and complete the Whitman Woods Pledge Form
North American Land Trust accepts gifts of cash, securities, life insurance, or real estate. Contributions may be tax deductible. Thank you, in advance, from all of us at North American Land Trust.