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!
After doing some research online, I decided to do the Hackensack Riverkeeper Meadowlands Discovery Eco-Cruise. It was worth it. The eco-cruise takes place on a pontoon boat and visits wetlands like Kingland Creek, Berry’s Creek Canal and a trip to what is known as the jewel of the Meadowlands, the Sawmill Creek Wildlife Management Area which is home to birds and other wildlife.
Most people see the Hackensack Meadowlands from the NJ Turnpike and think of it as a vast wasteland. The eco-cruise takes on a different perspective and makes you realize that the Meadowlands is a true urban treasure.
Our captain was Bill Sheehan, the Riverkeeper himself. He was great, pointing out wildlife and the happenings of the Meadowlands including enhancement efforts such as replacing Common Reed with native species such as Smooth Cordgrass. The picture below is a good example of the enhancement effort and shows an island which is virtually free of Common Reed.
The eco-cruise also made it past Laurel Hill (aka Snake Hill) which is said to have been infested with black water snakes during colonial times. Prudential Life Insurance Company was inspired by the formation of the rocks which was said to be similar to the Rock of Gibraltar and is still used in Prudential advertising to this day.
Kudos to Hackensack Riverkeeper for providing this fun and educational experience of the Hackensack Meadowlands. Be sure to check out http://www.hackensackriverkeeper.org/ for more information.
Feel free to comment below with questions memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!