The Meadows in the Fall

Experience the natural environment of The Meadowlands

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) hopes that many of you have been enjoying DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst this fall. Those who have visited the park recently have been excited to find that the Marsh Discovery Trail is open once again. The Marsh Discovery Trail is DeKorte Park’s most popular walkway, attracting thousands of nature lovers, bird watchers, students, and those simply looking for a tranquil place for relaxation and reflection each year.

The half-mile long boardwalk loop reopened in September following repairs to extensive damage incurred during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene in 2011. Before its reopening, the path had not been fully functional since Hurricane Irene. The trail extends over DeKorte’s Shorebird Pool, providing a unique vantage point to observe and photograph the Meadowlands’ abundant wildlife and amazing natural beauty, as well as the New York City skyline six miles to the East. It includes four bird-blinds, two study docks, two shaded classrooms, two open classrooms and several seating areas.

When it was originally opened in 1991, the Marsh Discovery Trail was one of the first barrier-free marsh nature trails constructed in the State of New Jersey. The Commission’s commitment to maintaining this same level of accessibility was paramount during the trail’s renovation. The Marsh Discovery Trail, like DeKorte Park, is open from 8 a.m. to dusk year-round excluding holidays. It may be accessed through the main entrance gate located along the Shorewalk, a short distance from the Meadowlands Environment Center; or from the mid-point of the Transco Trail.

The walkway is a vital component of field-based environmental education programs offered by the NJMC’s Meadowlands Environment Center (MEC). Educators use the path as a teaching tool for the thousands of students in Grades K-12 who participate in MEC classes each year. Students learn about the marsh environment in the walkway’s shaded and open classroom areas and use the two study docks to dip net for organisms and collect water samples.

The trail is also used in the MarshAccess Program. MarshAccess is an educational program offered at the MEC for people of all ages with a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities. The Marsh Discovery Trail allows MarshAccess participants access to hands-on educational activities and to experience the Meadowlands’ natural environment.

The NJMC, in partnership with the Bergen County Audubon Society, offers free, twice-monthly guided nature walks throughout the Meadowlands region, including the Marsh Discovery Trail. The trail is a great place to see Least Bitterns, Marsh Wrens and other waterfowl in the Shorebird Pool, and Red-winged Blackbirds and various raptors overhead during all seasons.

The glorious Bald Eagle, which can also be seen in the Meadowlands during any season, is of special note this year. In September, the NJMC was proud to launch its free downloadable e-book, “Bald Eagles in the Meadowlands & Beyond.” The 62-page lavishly illustrated book’s spectacular images and informative, engaging text from Bald Eagle experts chronicle the comeback of our nation’s symbol in northern New Jersey and across America. The NJMC’s Jim Wright edited the e-Book, and David Wheeler of Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey wrote the foreword.

By reading “Bald Eagles in the Meadowlands & Beyond,” you’ll gain a broad knowledge of the history, habits and habitats of Bald Eagles and how they’ve been affected by environmental changes over the decades. Having this greater perspective will only enhance the amazing experience of witnessing the majestic raptors in flight.  I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to read or download the free eBook by going to http://www.njmeadowlands.gov/njmc/nature/bald-eagles.html.

In addition to checking out eagles and egrets and taking in the landscape at DeKorte Park, we hope to see you at one of the Commission’s public programs during November and December. The events are held at the NJMC’s Meadowlands Environment Center (MEC) and Science Center, both located in the park.

We are also proud to announce that the NJMC is going paperless with our Schedule of Event programs. To receive email updates about our public programs and special events, drop us a line at communications@njmeadowlands.gov. Please see the text box below/opposite page Joe: Is it possible to set this off from main story as a text box at end of main story? 

On Saturday, Nov. 1, at 10 a.m., the public is invited to the art program “The Beauty of Gray: Charcoal Still Life with Shells and Skulls,” taking place in the Science Center. The class will focus on examining natural objects such as shells and animal skulls for their visual components, including shape and proportions, and using charcoal techniques to translate what you see to paper. Take-home supplies are provided and the cost of the program is $20, $15 for MEC members. The session is geared toward adults and kids ages 12 and up.

A discussion on the “Art of the Heavens” takes place on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. in the MEC.  The talk will explore how early humans created art from inspiration from the cosmos. This adult program is $5, MEC members $4.  On Sunday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m., all ages can meet and learn about “Birds of Prey.The Flat Rock Brook Nature Center will introduce you to a hawk, an owl and other raptors and explain all about their behavior, physiology, adaptations and natural history. The program, in the MEC, costs $5, MEC members $4.

Get ready for Thanksgiving with “All About Turkeys,” on Saturday, Nov. 22, at 1 p.m. in the Science Center. We’ll serve up some turkey facts and history, a scavenger hunt for kids with prizes, and a cranberry sauce demonstration and take-home recipe. Cost is $5, MEC members $4.

Some very special canines will return to the Environment Center by popular demand for the “Meet a Rescue Dog” program, on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. Members of Mahwah-based New Jersey Search and Rescue will talk about how the dogs carry out their missions in all elements, and give tips for what you can do if you get lost in the wilderness. New Jersey Search and Rescue is officially recognized as a non-profit, state and county emergency management resource organization. Cost is $5 per person, MEC members $4.

The fall schedule ends by welcoming the next season with a “Winter Solstice Celebration” on Thursday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Science Center. Visitors of all ages can learn about the history of the solstice, make a solstice craft and enjoy solstice-themed treats. Adults must accompany children. Cost is $5, MEC members $4.

For more information on our public programs, call 201-460-8300 or visit our website, www.njmeadowlands.gov.

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Meadowlands USA

Meadowlands USA

Meadowlands USA is a North Jersey regional publication that reaches people who live and work in and around the Meadowlands (including the Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Passaic County corridor), as well as visitors to our region. The blog edition is updated regularly and the print edition is released six times a year.

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