The Ridgefield Nature center consists of 5.4 acres of deciduous wooded wetlands and upland.
The nature center is only open on Saturdays to the public from 8AM-Noon.
Given the woods location on the Atlantic Flyway, many species of birds ranging from Red-winged Blackbird, White-breasted Nuthatch, Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch and other species are found here. A unique nonnative bird that can be found in the woods is the Monk Parakeet.
One of the more unique trees found at Ridgefield Nature Center is the American Persimmon tree. The tree is thought to be growing here at its extreme northern limit. The tree is found generally in the south. The bark of the Persimmon tree resembles alligator skin.
The day I visited the nature center this gigantic old mushroom was found and was on display.
The forest is surrounded by dense residential development to the north, south and west of the property. To the east of the forest is the Ridgefield Community Garden.
The garden is open for local residents to plant veggies or establish a butterfly garden. Wolf Creek flows to the east of the gardens and includes an estimated .58 of an acre of wetlands. The creek is a tribute of Bellmans Creek, a major lower Hackensack River Tributary. Both the community garden and Ridgefield Nature Center were once owned by the Great Bear Company which used the property to distribute bottled water. The Borough of Ridgefield purchased the combined 12 acres of the community garden and Ridgefield Nature Center land in 1975.
The woods are open to the public on Saturdays from 8am to Noon. Group Tours can be made by appointment by calling 201-943-5215 x353. The community garden is accessible to the public at any time during the day. Click here for more information regarding the Ridgefield Nature Center. The nature center is maintained by members of the Ridgefield Environmental Commission.
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!
DeKorte Park is an amazing environmental story. The 110 acre park is a former landfill that has been given a second chance and features trails, butterfly garden, observatory and an environmental education center.
Near the Environmental Education center is the Jill Ann Ziemkiewicz Memorial Butterfly Garden. The garden is named after the youngest crew member of TWA Flight 800 which crashed off of Long Island in July of 1996. The centerpiece of the gardens is a bird bath hand carved to look like a sunflower.
After I visited the butterfly garden, I took a stroll to the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve.
The Lyndhurst Nature Reserve is a 3 1/2 acre island that is made entirely out of old garbage that was illegally dumped between 1969-1971. The island is now a nature preserve covered with native grassland meadows and young woodlands. The island is surrounded by mudflats.
The mudflats surrounding the reserve at one time contained an extensive Atlantic White Cedar Swamp. Due to factors such as the construction of the Oradell dam to create the Oradell Reservoir in 1921 the water became too brackish for Atlantic White Cedar to survive. Today there are only ancient stumps remaining of the once extensive forest.
After leaving the Lyndhurst Nature Reserve, I took the eastern portion of the Transco trail which is roughly 3/4 of a mile in length. The trail is built on a dike constructed in 1950 which contains a buried natural gas pipeline. Some flora along the trail includes Thistle, Milkweed and Pokeweed. Check out below for some pictures of the fauna found nearby.
I also walked the Kingsland Overlook which offers view of the surrounding Kingsland Impoundment. The overlook was once a productive salt marsh which was turned into a dump. The former dump was turned into a park for wildlife starting in 1989. The landfill was capped with 400,000 recycled plastic soda bottles and covered with top soil. Thousands of plugs and 20 foot trees were planted. A dike was built to prevent leachate from going into the impoundment. The area is now maturing and many animals make the park their home.
DeKorte Park offers hope for all blighted areas. It is living proof that brownfields really can become greenfields with enough effort.
Still thirsty for more Meadowlands information and its amazing environmental comeback?? Don’t miss Jim Wright of the Meadowlands Commission’s new book “The Nature of the Meadowlands“!
Feel free to e-mail NJUrbanForest at NJUrbanForest@gmail.com with any comments, memories or suggestion! Thank you and have fun exploring!