A quiet place to be in nature

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The Henry Morgenthau Preserve

The Henry Morgenthau Preserve, set along and under the shoreline of Blue Heron Lake, is a 36-acre nature preserve that is free and open to the public from sunrise to sundown. Its boundaries include a portion of the lake and a small offshore island. Under the canopy of the preserve’s trees are several forest communities, a number of wetland areas, a small pond, vernal pools and several small streams.

Our mission is to manage, protect, and maintain the Preserve property and provide diverse environmental education to the residents of Pound Ridge, NY.

The Henry Morgenthau Preserve sponsors and supports educational programs in Pound Ridge including:

• The Invasives Project-Pound Ridge (more here)

• G.O.A.T.Pound Ridge (more here)

• An environmental and wildlife education program at the town’s day camp each summer.  



History of The Henry Morgenthau Preserve

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History of the Preserve

Founded in 1972, this popular preserve was a gift to Pound Ridge and surrounding communities from Ruth Morgenthau Knight, her daughter, Ellin N. London, and son-in-law, Robert D. London, MD. The preserve honors Mrs. Knight's father, Henry Morgenthau. An additional 8 acres were purchased from Dr. Polly Raizen in 1973. In 1994, Mr. Sidney Thompson donated an adjacent four-acre parcel.

The Preserve became its own 501(C)(3), not-for-profit organization on June 15, 2017. Previous to this, the Henry Morgenthau Preserve was affiliated with the Bedford Audubon Society, which acted as the fiscal sponsor of the organization. The Preserve is run by an all-volunteer Board comprised of local conservationists and concerned citizens.

Who was Henry Morgenthau?

Henry Morgenthau (April 26, 1856 – November 25, 1946) was a U.S. diplomat, attorney and real estate investor who was active in Democratic Party politics. He was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. He was father of the politician and former Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and grandfather of Robert M. Morgenthau, the District Attorney of New York County.

Ambassador Morgenthau was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1856, the son of Lazarus Morgenthau, an extremely successful cigar manufacturer. He was the 9th of 11 living children, attended City College, and graduated from Columbia Law School. He began his career as a lawyer, but he made a substantial fortune in real estate investments. He married Josephine Sykes in 1882 and they had four children, Helen, Alma, Henry Jr. and Ruth. It was his youngest daughter, Ruth Morgenthau Knight, her daughter and son-in-law, who donated the land and endowment that created the Henry Morgenthau Preserve in Pound Ridge, New York.

In 1913, Morgenthau was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. He served in this post from 1913 – 1916. After the outbreak of World War I, the American embassy, and by extension Morgenthau, represented many of the U.S. Allies in Istanbul, after they evacuated their diplomatic missions due to the escalating hostilities. As U.S. Ambassador, he also became a critical human rights advocate for the plight of the Armenian people and became the voice of authority in alerting the world to what is widely recognized as the Armenian Genocide.

After World War I, he attended the Paris Peace Conference, as an advisor on Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He later worked with war-related charitable bodies, including the Relief Committee for the Middle East, the Greek Refugee Settlement Commission and the American Red Cross. In 1932, he was appointed the American representative at the Second Geneva Naval Conference held to discuss naval arms limitation.

He is the author of several books, most notably a book on the Armenian Genocide titled Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story (1919) and The Secrets of the Bosporus (1918), which detailed his experiences as the U.S. Ambassador during the last days of the Ottoman Empire. He also authored The Morgenthau Report, concerning the mistreatment of Poland’s Jewish Community and I Was Sent To Athens, which told of his involvement working with Greek Refugees. The Library of Congress also holds some 30,000 documents from his personal papers.

Ambassador Morgenthau died in New York City in 1946 following a cerebral hemorrhage. He is buried in Valhalla, New York.

An electronic copy of Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story is available through the World War Archive here.

*Wikipedia copyrights the majority of the information contributing to this page.


What you'll discover at The Morgenthau

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Forest Communities

Four different forest communities make the Preserve a complex and vital ecological community. Here is where to find them and how to identify them:

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sugar maple forest 

Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) are the predominant tree in the preserve and line the paths of the Blue Trail from the entrance of the preserve to the Jerome J. Lawton Crossroads. They are identified by five-lobed leaves and paired, winged seeds, which are eaten extensively by many kinds of wildlife.




oak-hickory forest 

Continue on the southern route of the Blue Trail and cross the White trail. Soon you will see a large Black Oak (Queues velutina) on your left. It is one of several Oak species found in the preserve. Its pointed, shallow-cut leaves and dark, block-like bark distinguish it from the White Oak. Its extensive root system and dense wood allow Black Oaks to withstand winds and heavy snow that may topple less hardy species. These tall trees sometimes grow to 75 ft. high. Continue on the Blue Trail, to the Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) trees. They are identified by flaking, shaggy bark that curves outward at the top and bottom and scales off in long thin plates. The compound leaves are set alternately upon the twig. In September, the tree produces a crop of sweet, egg shaped nuts with four-parted husks that are eaten by squirrels, turkey and deer.

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Dominating the landscape on the Yellow Trail is a massive White Oak (Q. alba). Naturalists estimate the tree's age at 400 years old, which makes it one of the oldest Oaks in Westchester County! It is noted for its ash-gray flaking bark and light green, evenly round-lobed leaves. Oaks of this type are referred to as "Wolf Oaks" and you will observe several of these oaks growing in or near stone walls. They thrive alone in open spaces where the tree's broad crown can develop a majestic appearance. The presence of a Wolf Oak usually indicates the land was once used for pasture and crops.



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Red Maple Swamps

The Red Maple (Acer rubrum) is the dominant tree species found in the swamps along the Yellow Trail. These trees can thrive in a variety of adverse conditions and occur in many types of hydro-geological settings. Red Maple Swamps are the most abundant type of freshwater wetland throughout the Northeast and flourish due to their ability to produce a heavy seed crop nearly every spring.



white pine plantations

White Pine (Pinus strobes) is the longest-lived of this community and is located where the Blue and White Trail merge. This native species likes open, sunny habitats and, in favorable conditions, can live almost 200 years. Its bluish-green needles are grouped in bundles of five and the bark of the young white pines is smooth, while older trees have broad, flat, and scaly ridges. Following the Blue Trail along the sandy shoreline of Blue Heron Lake you will see a grove of Scotch Pines (Pinus sylvestris). The needles are shorter than those of White Pine and grow in clusters of two. The trees have bright, orange-peeling bark on the upper parts of the trunk and branches. These pines are a non-native species imported from Europe. They have spread throughout this area from forest and Christmas tree plantings. Another member of this plantation further down the trail is the Black Birch (Betula lenta), commonly known as Sweet Birch. It is a tall, straight, black-barked tree and is unlike other native birches, which possess a papery bark. The young trunk is marked with thin, horizontal stripes called lenticels. Deer, mice and rabbits browse the twigs, and grouse favor its seeds. When broken, the twigs emit a spicy wintergreen odor.


Highlights of the Preserve



On the Blue Trail near the Oak-Hickory Forest, you will pass a rock outcropping on your left. This metamorphic and igneous rock gives a glimpse of how part of the New England Upland was formed between 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago. The largest boulder in the preserve, located at the split of the Blue and White Trails, is over six feet in diameter. It was carried by glacial action thousands of years ago.



The Deer Exclosures were erected to encourage the growth of ground cover as well as two rare and endangered orchid species: Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens) and Lady Slipper (Cypripredium reginae). Rattlesnake Plantain is a small terrestrial orchid with broad, rounded leaves and silver markings. It is also known by the name "Rattlesnake Orchid." Lady Slipper is a rare and showy terrestrial orchid that has almost vanished from the area due to habitat loss and the overpopulation of deer.

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Historic stonewalls run through the heart of the forest and along its borders. Many of the walls date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when this area was part of a large farm. After a 2008 restoration and rebuilding project, you can now see excellent examples of walls that served as boundaries for open pastures, crops and livestock pens. Although they no longer serve as property boundaries, they currently provide safe habitat for the smaller creatures in the preserve.



The preserve also contains a large holding of shoreline along Blue Heron Lake. Damming off drainage from surrounding streams and wetlands created the lake you see today. It was enlarged from a marshy pond sometime in the early 1920s. The lake is 45 acres and has several small islands. The maximum water depth is 18 ft., but most of the lake is from 10-to-12 ft. deep. The most abundant fish species are bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, and largemouth bass. No fishing is allowed at the preserve.

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Evidence of beaver

Evidence of beaver


The preserve also hosts an abundance of wildlife. Visitors can observe the tracks of raccoons by the lake; deer rubs on the trees made by white-tailed deer, and large holes in trees made by woodpeckers. Birders have documented over 120 species of birds in or near the preserve. Among the most frequently sited are: Goldfinches, Northern Orioles, Titmice, Nuthatches, Scarlet Tanagers, Green Herons, Pileated Woodpeckers, Ringed Neck Ducks, Buffleheads, Red-Tailed Hawks and, of course, Great Blue Herons. Coyote, fox, opossum, various moles, striped skunks, muskrats, beaver, chipmunks and several squirrel species are also present and are often seen by visitors walking the preserve trails. In addition, several types of reptiles and amphibians have been seen, including spotted salamanders, painted and snapping turtles.


Educational programs and events

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The Invasives Project – Pound Ridge

The Invasives Project-Pound Ridge (TIP-PR) is a public/private task force initiated by the Henry Morgenthau Preserve, Inc. and the Pound Ridge Conservation Board. Its mission is to protect the natural beauty of Pound Ridge, preserve wildlife habitat, encourage the use of native plant species, and limit the spread of invasive species. 

Throughout the year, certified Master Gardeners, volunteers and citizen scientists organize work parties, present panel discussions, hold workshops, and make home visits to educate residents about invasive species; the ones that have already taken root and the ones that are coming down the pike. Visit its web site at http://www.invasivespoundridge.org to learn more about stopping the spread of invasive species.

The goals of TIP-PR are to:

• Promote community education, awareness and cooperation regarding native and invasive plants

• Encourage and coordinate efforts to reduce existing infestations

• Prevent new infestations through early detection and rapid response

• Systematically study local invasive species and their management

• Create an invasive control program other towns can replicate in their communities

Our community partners include: Mianus River Gorge Preserve, New York/New Jersey Trail Conference, the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, the Pound Ridge Library, The Pound Ridge Partnership and the Westchester Land Trust. Over the last five years, these organizations have worked together to promote the planting of native species, provided programs and organized volunteer activities to manage invasive species within the town.

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G.O.A.T.Pound Ridge

G.O.A.T.Pound Ridge is a three-year, demonstration grazing program to control the spread of Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants. From May until October, goats are securely fenced at Avantgarden Ltd. On Westchester Avenue in Scotts Corner.

Goats are particularly suited for this project because:

• Goats love knotweed (it's one their favorite foods!).

• Their digestive systems efficiently destroy the reproducible parts of the plant thereby eliminating disposal problems associated with knotweed.

What Is Japanese knotweed and Why Control It? Knotweed is an aggressive, large "clump-like shrub" with hard stems that thrives in areas where the soil has been disturbed. It is difficult to cut and dispose of because any cuttings left behind can regenerate. It is notorious for encroaching on athletic playing fields and roadsides. It can push through asphalt and concrete retaining walls causing significant structural damage. If knotweed growing on your property, it can also reduce its value.

The G.O.A.T project is sponsored by the lnvasives Project - Pound Ridge, in partnership and with the support of The Henry Morgenthau Preserve, Inc., The Pound Ridge Garden Club, The Pound Ridge Land Conservancy and the generous support of the Westchester Community Foundation. Over the last five years, these organizations have worked together to promote the planting of native species, provided programs and organized volunteer activities to manage invasive species within the town.


June 14, 2018          An informative program on living with bears is at the Pound Ridge Library.

6:45 pm