Pre-winter Walks through the Emerson Woods - December 2011
Paddle on the Hackensack River - May 22, 2011On Sunday, May 22, over 40 participants paddled back in time to experience a primieval marsh that still exits in our Hackensack River Valley. The Spatterdock Marsh is 300 acres of freashwater marsh that lies between Lake DeForrest and Lake Tappan. It is a splendid and mysterious landscape that provides a home to a vibrant wildlife community. Nancy Slowik, a naturalist with Hudsonia, and Ray Cywinski, the watershed manager for United Water New Jersey, led a two-hour guided tour of the region. To close the event, local historian Daniel Wolff gave a poignant talk on the how the original Lenape inhabitants of the area survived in this landscape and how they and we have both struggled to live in balance with nature. Highlights from our guides are presented below.
Click here for photos of the paddle.
Comments by our Guides:
Wetland habitats found along this stretch of the Hackensack include a narrow portion of the river that flows into an expansive freshwater marsh and eventually empties into a lake. The marsh functions as a transition zone between open water and dry land, where a variety of wetland plants can be found, including the bright yellow flowers of the spadderdock water lily taking root in this shallow wetland. Plants such as bur-reed, pickerel weed, buttonbush, rose mallow, iris, rushes, sedges, and grasses can also be found here. Tree species found growing along the river bank include red maple, pin oak, green ash, slippeary elm, box elder, and willow. Also present was water chestnut, an invasive plant species that can dominate the wetland.
A number of bird species utilize this portion of the Hackensack River during migration as a temporary stopover or as a wetland habitat to breed. During a pre-event scouting expedition on May 13 and on the May 22 canoe trip, we observed the following species: red-tailed hawk, osprey, wood duck, black duck, mute swan, great white egret, great blue heron, belted kingfisher, tree swallow, chimney swift, barn swallow, Baltimore oriole, red-winged blackbird, common grackle, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat warbler, warbling vireo, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, American goldfinch, and a secretive wren yet to be identified.
One of the most interesting species found was the shell of a freshwater mussel that was later identified as an eastern floater (Pyganodon cataracta), a common species of lakes and ponds in eastern North American according to Dave Strayer of Carey Institute. Probably a raccoon had cracked open this bivalve for dinner, indicating the presence of mammals.
* The northern Hackensack runs in a natural, marshy water basin between the Ramapo Mountains and the Palisades.
* Evidence shows a human presence in the valley some 10,000 years ago, along with mastodon and mammoth.
* Native inhabitants probably fished the Hudson in the spring and came back into the warmer, more protected Hackensack Valley during the fall and winter.
* Lenape and other tribes needed an acute knowledge of nature to survive, including a belief system that maintained a balance between human and animal needs.
* Given the intense population demands on the Hackensack, humans must develop an unprecedented awareness and conservation ethic to continue living along its banks.
Art Exhibit on the Watershed Featured at the Haworth Municipal Library
The water and watersheds we take for granted are the theme of a current art show at the Haworth Municipal Library. Brought together for a recent Bergen SWAN evening celebrating the Hackensack River – Hackensack River StoryNight - the exhibit will be up through the month of October, with a closing reception on Saturday, October 30 from 12-2 pm. The exhibit celebrates the waterways and woodlands of the Hackensack River Watershed, from Lake Lucille in New City, New York through the Meadowlands and Newark Bay in New Jersey. Artworks that depict the river, its tributaries, and natural areas were given preference, but works inspired by other regional rivers were also included.
The camera’s ability to capture water in its many moods makes this exhibit rich in photography. There is a wide range of photographic practice. Among the many distinguished entries from all over the region, two photos by Steve Burns display the beautiful colors of sunset and a blue misty morning on the Oradell Reservoir. Hildi Borkowski is represented by a panorama of marshes but has also focused her lens on a seagull. Haworth resident Nancy Wysocki has two views of the Hackensack near Secaucus.
Laurie Seeman of West Nyack NY lives on the shores of Lake DeForest and is represented by two black-and-white photographs playing the texture of rippling water against the rough texture of burlap. Residing south of her in New Jersey, Lori Landau has entered her impressionistic photographic musings that focus on the play of light and wind on the reflective surface of the Saddle River and other waterways.
Bergenfield resident Tim Dingman is represented by black-and-white photos of the lower reaches of the Hackensack, some featuring mighty steel bridges. In yet another black-and-white photo that has a touch of surrealism, Melchior DiGiacomo shows in a large format work, a boy sleeping on a dock by the Hudson - the Twin Towers in the background. Frank Palaia, formerly of Jersey City, now lives in the mid-Hudson area, and his photographs document the new walkway over the Hudson and other important upstate water sites.
Paintings are also well-represented, with artists depicting rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in styles ranging from photorealist to abstract. Barton Knight has a group of small works that capture the quiet mood of water in several local woodland settings. The realism of these skillful and jewel-like works carries with them the introspective spirit that watersheds still inspire in all of us. Some of this spirit is also captured in Celine Ennis’ translucent small encaustics, while Adele Grodstein's waterscapes celebrate the energy of its colors in different lights with virtuoso application of oils. A more abstract view of the watershed is depicted in the dynamic works of Ellen Reinkraut, Cyn Bird, Frank Ferrante, and Ruth Bauer Neustadter. There is a lot of talent here: Frances Wells has contributed oil paintings, while iridescent acrylic paintings represent Stephen Horowitz. A monoprint entry by Rhoda Prochter rounds out the exhibit.
Bergen SWAN (Save the Watershed Action Network), the non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting the Upper Hackensack River watershed, is the organizing force behind this exhibit. The organization’s primary focus has been the preservation of the natural lands surrounding the drinking water supply reservoirs in Bergen and Rockland counties. To date, they have been a major force in saving over 3,300 acres from residential and commercial development.
Bergen SWAN and this exhibit inspire all of us to work toward protecting these lands, and their natural beauty and ecological functioning. A portion of the proceeds from exhibit art sales will benefit SWAN and the Haworth Library
The public is invited to come and meet the artists and environmentalists at a closing reception on Saturday, October 30 from 12-2 pm. A good glass of water will be among the many treats! For further information about this exhibit, please call Celine Ennis at 201-387-8879 or Barton Knight at 201-666-1877.
Hackensack River Story Night!
The first ever Hackensack River StoryNight promises to be a magical event that celebrates local waterways and honors the role they play in nurturing and sustaining our communities.
Against the setting of a beautiful old stone chapel and its scenic grounds, local river protection advocates will tell stories relating their experiences with the land and the people sharing our water resources. Performers Kevin Wright of Bergen County Historical Society; Captain Bill Sheehan of Hackensack Riverkeeper; Mike Trepicchio of Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission; Martus Granier of West Branch Conservation Association; and Mark Becker and Lori Charkey of Bergen SWAN will regale the audience with their personal adventures that took place on one or more stream within the Hackensack River Watershed.
Between scheduled speakers, the evening's Master of Ceremonies, Greg Remaud of NY/NJ Baykeeper, will offer members of the audience the opportunity to share their own river-related stories.
Throughout StoryNight, participants will enjoy water-inspired musical improvisations by renowned performers of acoustic music. The musicians will play in concert with a soundscape of Hackensack River streams, waterfalls, and spillways, recorded this summer by Theatre Maker Will MacAdams, and Bergen SWAN's Barton Knight and Lori Charkey.
Providing another highlight of the event, several local artists will display and offer for sale works inspired by Hackensack R. watershed and other regional waterways. Weather permitting, the show's paintings, mixed media, photography, and mobiles will be set against the backdrop of the church's outdoor stone cloister and gardens on the night of the event, and will continue on exhibit throughout October at the Haworth Municipal Library. A portion of proceeds from sold works will benefit Bergen SWAN.
Click here for a downloadable copy of this flyer.
Watershed-friendly Landcare Workshop II
Scroll down to find a description of the talks, speaker bios and directions to the site.
Click HERE to download a PDF copy of this flyer!
Talk Descriptions and Speaker Bios:
Ray Manacas & Bill Day, Threefold Educational Center - Raingarden Talk & Tour
The 2004 renovation of the Hungry Hollow Co-op food market was done with a commitment to ecologically sound landscaping practices. These practices are based on the use of native plants combined with landscaping that replicates the functions of natural swales and wetlands. At the Co-op, a 3,000-square-foot raingarden collects runoff from the parking lot and roof, while upland plantings closer to the building replace conventional turf grass lawns. In this presentation, Ray Manacas and Bill Day of Threefold Educational Center will show how ecological landscaping principles can be put into practice - while covering raingarden design, construction, and maintenance.
BIO: Ray Manacas is the Executive Director and Bill Day is the Development Coordinator for the Threefold Educational Center, a non-profit that develops and supports a wide range of educational activities that explore and enrich the human body, soul, and spirit. Based in Chestnut Ridge, NY, the Center manages 140 acres, using biodynamic methods. The raingarden at Hungry Hollow Co-op, part of the Threefold community, was featured on Bergen SWAN's 2009 Watershed-wide Eco Tour, in which Ray and Bill acted as guides for the site.
Bill Kolvek, BK Perennials - Low Water & Water-retaining Landscaping
Proper moisture assessment of a planting area and selecting appropriate plants is half the battle for success in landscaping. We will investigate a pallet of good garden plants that perform well on dry sites. We will discover and highlight certain plants that actually prefer low amounts of water. Participants will be given strategies for using these and other plants as alternatives to the conventional lawn.
BIO: Bill Kolvek is owner of BKP Perennials in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, which supplies plants to county and town parks, arboretums, botanical gardens, schools, businesses, and garden lovers in Bergen and Rockland counties. BKP has provided non-profits with affordable, healthy, native plants for raingarden and xeriscape projects. The company has locally grown perennials, grasses, ferns, vines, and woody plants since 1987. Bill lectures about ornamental grasses at the NY Botanical Garden. He presented at Bergen SWAN's 2008 Battle of the Botanicals, 2009 Watershed-wide EcoTour, and June 2010 Watershed-friendly Landcare Workshop I.
Rob Schucker, R&S Landscaping - Water-efficient Irrigation Techniques
An inefficient irrigation system can waste water and money each month, but did you know it can also cause plant and lawn disease problems? We will explain how you can avoid these costly situations by providing tips on when and how much to water to use to maximize the health of your plants. We'll explore the benefits of using low-cost, water efficient drip irrigation systems and discuss when and where to use this technique. Participants will also learn about water-saving devices for a sprinkler system that can take the guesswork out of watering.
BIO: Rob Schucker is the president and founder of two environmentally-conscious landscaping firms - R&S Landscaping and Eco Earth Design of Midland Park, NJ. Rob's companies are comprised of Design/Build, Property Maintenance, Plant Health Care, and Irrigation & Lighting divisions. At his home in Blairstown, NJ, he and his wife Mila raise llamas and goats. Rob is a Certified Landscape Professional, Green Roof Professional and New Jersey Certified Irrigation Contractor. He also served as a raingarden tour guide during Bergen SWAN's 2009 Watershed-wide Eco Tour
Jack Daly, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County - How to Engage Family, Neighbors, Friends, and Elected Officials in Water Conservation Efforts
Jack Daly is a volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension, specializing in water management and ecology. He served as an instructor for CCE's 40-hour AmeriCorps training week, and he is an adjunct professor in Sustainability Studies at Ramapo College.
Watershed-friendly Landcare Workshop I
Click HERE to downoad the Watershed Friendly Landcare Workshop flyer and list of workshops & speaker biographies - also shown below.
Click HERE for an interactive map and directions to the location of the event, or see the directions and map below.
A downloadable and printable copy of this flyer can be obtained by clicking HERE! .
Click HERE to download a Volunteer Sign Up sheet.
Please fill out the form on your computer and email to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also print out the form and mail it back to us at PO Box 217, Westwood, NJ 07675
We will be planting a 10,000 square foot area around the central pond.
We will have a tent set up not far from the entry area, which is where we will gather on both days. This will serve as home base for instructions, supplies, food, and information.
We are looking for a handful of experienced hands that can act as Team Leaders, and be present for meetings in advance of the event and on the site prep/training on May 13-14.
We will work all day on Saturday, and hopefully for only part of Sunday.
Regular "worker bee" volunteers should show up at the park on Saturday, May 15, starting at 8:30 AM. Sunday, May 16 will be our day for any overflow work and cleanup. We will try to give participants a break and start somewhat later on Sunday, depending on the workload.
Volunteers will be provided with breakfast and/or lunch - whichever of these meals for which they are present.
Volunteers can contribute as little as two hours' work or as much as two days' work - but we prefer those who can put in a solid 1/2 day or more of their time.
We will be circulating a registration sheet for each volunteer to complete. (Note: this form will be posted on our website by mid-April.)
The planting will take place regardless of the weather.
Volunteers should wear seasonally- and weather-appropriate, comfortable, breathable clothing that they do not mind getting muddy, and bring a slicker in case of rain. They should wear comfortable, waterproof, non-slippery shoes that they do not mind soiling.
Volunteers with physical limitations can help with lighter tasks.
We will be planting seeds, plugs, container plants, and large balled & burlapped trees. We will be working with a landscape contractor in advance of the event to prep and stage the grounds. The landscaper's crew will make the ground ready and dig larger holes.