Author Topic: Hackensack River Eco-tourism  (Read 21990 times)

Offline Editor

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2010, 09:26:46 AM »
EARTH DAY SPECIAL: Hackensack River continues its recovery
Date: Thursday, April 22
Leader Newspaper
By John Soltes / Editor in Chief

LYNDHURST (April 22, 2010, 10:15 a.m.) The sky is looking blue for the murky depths of the Hackensack River, according to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, which has zoning authority for the portions of land in and around the southern branch of the 50-mile estuary.

In a spate of recently released studies meant to coincide with Earth Day, held this year on Thursday, April 22 the NJMC and its Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute are finding sustained progress from the microorganism level to the bird population. In particular, the amount of dissolved oxygen in the river, which is a telling sign of an estuarys health, has seen an increase over the last 17 years.

In 1993, the oxygen hovered just below a designated stress level for aquatic life. Today, the oxygen has rebounded to a more comforting plateau.

But this waterway, home to numerous birds and fish, is not out of the dark just yet.

Were all confident, said Dr. Francisco Artigas, director of MERI. But were cautious.

The caution may be due to last years dissolved oxygen levels. According to statistics released by the commission, the concentration of dissolved oxygen dropped from 8.5 mg/L in 2008 to roughly 6 mg/L in 2009 (the amount is still well above the stress level). Artigas said 2009 was a bit of an outlier, and that trends need to be evaluated over several years because of the drastic variability that can cause levels to rise or fall. In 2009, for example, there was more precipitation than usual, especially in the spring and summer months; thus the stormwater system, which empties into the river, brought with it not only rain, but also hazardous fertilizer, soap from car washes and lawn clippings.

When looking at the studys genesis in 1993 to the present day, there is a long-term increase of dissolved oxygen equaling 11 percent.

We take four samplings per year from 14 locations in the estuary, Artigas said. We sample every season at low tide, which are the worse conditions.

Though this recently released study looks at levels from a year-to-year basis, the NJMC also monitors oxygen on an hourly basis (a study that dates back some six years). Artigas and his staff keep their pulse on the river like a watchful parent over a newborn.

With this new data set, Artigas said theres nothing abnormal and that if anything the numbers are looking really good.

The Hackensack River is a strange snake, indeed. It slithers its way from parts north down to the Meadowlands and the Newark area. Its a tidal beast that is prone to flooding when the rains become heavy. Artigas calls its a dysfunctional estuary.

For example, when there is an increase in precipitation, as there was the weekend of March 13, the Oradell dam releases a tremendous amount of water to relieve pressure in the north. This creates a reaction from the river when you discharge abruptly from one single point, Artigas said. Nutrients enter the system. The salinity goes down. Turbidity goes up. There are many sources of variability.

One nutrient that makes its way into the stormwater system is nitrogen, and this is how the public is intimately involved with the river. When a person soaps up their car, uses fertilizer on their lawn or deposits lawn clippings on the side of the road, they may have an inadvertent effect on the nearby Hackensack River. All the debris has great influence when you take in the quality of the river, Artigas added.

Jim Wright, the communications officer for the NJMC who runs the Meadowlands Blog, echoed those sentiments. What (residents) put on their lawns has a direct effect on the river, he said.

The Clean Water Act of 1970 eliminated many points of pollution (sewage, for example, no longer should makes its way into the wetlands). Now the pendulum of responsibility swings onto the well-manicured lawns of those in the local neighborhood.

We dont have a way to look at how the citizen is behaving, Artigas said. Anything you put in the catch basins in the street goes directly into the river.

Without dissolved oxygen, Artigas said the Hackensack River, which has a history of being a natural hatchery for young fish, would not sustain life.

This is one of the most developed, metropolitan areas in the world, Artigas said. This is no time for, We have won the war or we can go to McDonalds and forget about. We are far from done.

Contact John at 201-438-8700

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Giants help clean River
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2010, 08:44:18 AM »
NY Giants help clean up the Hackensack River

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZSWvr94uXkM?fs=1&amp;amp;hl=en_US" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ZSWvr94uXkM?fs=1&amp;amp;hl=en_US</a>
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 08:46:10 AM by Editor »

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2011, 08:41:27 AM »
A plea to stem stream of waste
Friday, April 15, 2011
BY SCOTT FALLON
The Record
STAFF WRITER

Three environmental groups asked state officials this week to curb the release of raw sewage and other pollutants into the state's waterways, including the Hackensack, Passaic and Hudson rivers.

The groups want the Department of Environmental Protection to put tougher regulations into a statewide permit that they say violates the federal Clean Water Act by not requiring towns to use the best technology available to treat their sewage discharges.

Whenever treatment plants are overwhelmed during a heavy rainstorm or snow melt, combined sewer systems run by towns are designed to overflow into a river, creek or other water body.

Bacteria from feces and chemicals from runoff have long been major problems for North Jersey's waterways. The Clean Water Act has made strides in stemming this pollution. The Hackensack River and especially the Meadowlands are slowly recovering, decades after the act. But these combined sewer overflow systems still threaten the health of the region's rivers and creeks.

The permit for the state's 206 combined sewer overflow points, essentially pipes sprouting from a riverbank, expired in 2009 after five years. The DEP has allowed the permit to continue without officially reissuing it, which would give the agency a chance to add additional safeguards, environmentalists say.

"Right now it's in administrative limbo, but we feel it's an immediate threat to public health," said Chris Len, the staff attorney for the Hackensack Riverkeeper and NY/NJ Baykeeper, which is petitioning the DEP.

Most of these overflow points are in urban communities that don't have the funds to upgrade the sewer system. North Bergen, Hackensack, Ridgefield Park and Paterson all discharge into waterways from multiple entry points.

They "are a big reason why we can't safely fish or swim in a lot of the rivers and bays around here," said Bill Sheehan, head of the Hackensack Riverkeeper.

"The DEP "has had the duty and power to bring CSOs in line with the law," he said "So far, they haven't done so."

The DEP has retrofitted the pipes to capture floating feces and trash, but the move did little to reduce bacteria, said Larry Hajna, a DEP spokesman. The DEP has also helped the towns build holding tanks to capture the "first-flush water" during heavy rains. The tanks regulate the release of the waste to the treatment plants when those facilities aren't inundated with storm water.

Len said New Jersey is lagging behind others. For instance, New York City plans to increase capacity at three sewer plants by 2030 to reduce the amount of overflow.

The Raritan Riverkeeper also petitioned the DEP.

E-mail: fallon@northjersey.com

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2011, 09:02:54 AM »
When the River Was Clean
The annual Hackensack River Clean-Up is this weekend, but at one time, the event never took place
By Eric Model
New Milford Patch, May 3, 2011

Each Spring, a diverse army of volunteers descends one weekend upon the Hackensack River to clean it up. A variety of boats, volunteers from boy scouts to Senior Citizens prowl the banks and the river itself. They come back with assorted debris from cans and bottles to full size home appliances and a lot in between.

As the river is cleaned, one cannot help but pause to contemplate what it was decades ago at a time before such a committed clean-up effort was made necessary.

Through the first decade of the 20th century the river local was a source of food and fun. Shad and herring were caught in it. The New Bridge Boat Club staged regattas and swim contests; canoeists could rent boats at both New Bridge and Old Bridge (River Edge Road). There were sandy shores at Sandy Beach (Eden Beach) near the site of the River Edge Diner.

John Thompson, long time River Edge clerk, is quoted as remembering jumping into the river from the wreck of a schooner which had gone aground years earlier on the east bank of the river.

But then it all stopped.

The damming of the river in the early 1900s to create the Oradell Reservoir ended Oradell's tenure as a vacation destination.

According to a local history, the use of the river for recreation purposes was undermined in 1911 when it became necessary to enlarge the Oradell Reservoir.

The accompanying dredging operations made the river so muddy it became unfit for any type of use. Large quantities of silt were churned up and the spawning habits of the shad were upset. The usefulness of the river for recreational purposes was destroyed.

Another factor, write those histories, was the practice of dumping raw and partially treated sewage into the water prior to the construction of a water treatment plant in Little Ferry. Historians speak of the worst of the dumping occurring during World War I from Camp Merritt at what is now the site of the monument at the Cresskill Circle.

For many years too many folks were resigned to the fact that the Hackensack would always be nothing more than a dumping pool.

Then in the 1960s, River Edge Girl Scout Troop 127 inspired the start of a clean-up, an effort that continues almost 50 years later. The scout group received national fame for a write-up about them in Life Magazine.

This publicity helped inspire the formation of a Hackensack River Coordinating Committee in 1967. They sought to develop a comprehensive shoreline plan plans that once included a Lake Hackensack as well as places for birding, hiking canoeing and concerts.

These days many folks are still at it, though the vision has been changed a bit. The Hackensack Riverkeeper helps act as a multi-community focal point in these efforts.

Back in the 1930s a former Bergen County Sheriff was quoted in the Bergen Evening Record as hoping the lethargy of present-day officialdom will be replaced by surging alertness. Stupid lack of initiative will be replaced by unselfish action. There is still hope of salvaging the River.

Eighty years, thanks to the efforts of many, that hope remains.

Offline irons35

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2011, 04:29:22 PM »
not for nothing, but these "reporters" should really check their facts before they type.  a simple 4 word google search shows the article came out in 1970. if this committee was formed in 1967, it wasnt the publicity from the article that spurred it on.

http://books.google.com/books?id=3FUEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=life+magazine+hackensack+river&source=bl&ots=4TFV9GQvrJ&sig=rGOqK8rSmZMJP2L-q8ZGgInJoLY&hl=en&ei=T7bBTcGmIdKbtwfN4Lm_BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2011, 04:55:11 PM »
Advocate challenges proposed waterfront access changes
Friday, May 20, 2011
BY MARK J. BONAMO
Hackensack Chronicle
MANAGING EDITOR

A local environmental advocacy group is expressing concern that proposed changes to regulations of public access to state waterfronts could adversely affect New Jersey's communities, including Hackensack.

Capt. Bill Sheehan, head of the Hackensack Riverkeeper environmental advocacy organization, noted that a recent Governor Christie administration proposal to overturn public access regulations adopted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under former Gov. Jon Corzine in 2007 could deprive the public of an important quality-of-life resource.

Sheehan specifically pointed to the current state requirement that commercial waterfront property owners must provide onsite access where safe or contribute funds to assist local communities in either creating or securing nearby access points.

"It was a way to get industries that were tying up our waterfronts for years to actually acknowledge that the waterfront belongs to the people of New Jersey," said Sheehan, who spoke out against any proposed changes to the waterfront access rules at a May 12 public hearing in Jersey City, one of several being held throughout the state. "These industries make millions of dollars because they are allowed to operate on our waterfront and use our waterways. Yet they don't want to make the minimal donations of providing public access to the waterfronts."

While for many the battle for waterfront public access centers on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, Sheehan noted that the struggle over who ultimately controls use of the state's waterfronts hits closer to home in Hackensack.

"The waterfront in Hackensack is a prime location for redevelopment," said Sheehan, referring to the section of the city that abuts the Hackensack River. "Under the rules today, every developer would be required to provide public access to the water. Under the proposed rules, the developers could turn around, and once again the waterfront would be privatized. Only the people who could afford the condos would have access to the riverfront."

A draft proposing changes in the waterfront public access rules was released to the state Legislature last month, and written public comments will be collected until next month.

Hackensack Riverkeeper's staff attorney Christopher Len, who is representing the organization throughout the public hearing process, stated why local municipalities should pay close attention to the proposed changes in the state's waterfront public access rules.

"A lot of people don't have the time or the money to go to the big sandy beaches down south," said Len, who is also the staff attorney for the NY/NJ Baykeeper environmental advocacy group. "If some people around here want to have outdoor recreation, then their choice is the Hackensack River. To the extent that these new regulations make it difficult, or impossible, for those people to do that, then these people are being robbed of a public trust resource that they own. The people of New Jersey own these waterfronts. They are not the government's waterfronts to give away. That's my property and your property. They're ours."

E-mail: bonamo@northjersey.com

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #21 on: September 01, 2011, 09:39:04 AM »
Pontoon boat tours on the Hackensack
Thursday, September 1, 2011
BY VERA LAWLOR
The Parent Paper

Not long after the pontoon boat pulled away from the marina in Carlstadt, the bird spotting began. A blue heron standing tall amidst the reeds, a great egret perched on an old earth berm waiting for the tide waters to recede so that he could grab a meal and a great cormorant standing on a wooden piling with outstretched wings drying off in the morning sun.

The 2-hour boat ride, operated by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC), takes passengers along the Hackensack River and its marshes. The NJMC is the zoning and planning agency for a 30.4-square-mile area along the Hackensack River covering parts of 14 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson Counties. The tour boats are staffed by experts on the natural and human history of the region and operated by staff who are certified in boating through programs by the U.S. Coast Guard and the State of New Jersey.

The boat tours are offered through the end of September and families with children ages 10 and up are welcome. For families with younger children, the NJMC offers an opportunity to visit the Butterfly Garden and take a guided or self-guided walk along the nature trails in the Richard W. DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst. Also in the park, is the William D. McDowell Observatory thats open for stargazing every Monday and Wednesday throughout the year.

Flanked by tall reeds, our recent excursion took us along the edges of the 200-acre Mill Creek where our guide, Gabrielle Bennett-Meany, spoke about the Clean Water Act of 1972 and how it offered the first protection for wetlands. As we left the creek and headed back out into the open water, the remnants of an old flood gate served as a reminder that the wetlands were not always viewed as important to our ecosystem.

"At one time the perception of the meadowlands was so poor that people felt the only thing it was good for was to be drained, filled in with garbage, and developed," explains Bennett-Meany, senior program specialist for the NJMC. "Starting in the 1930s, one third of the state of New Jersey dumped garbage in the Meadowlands."

Back out on the river, as we glided past marshlands behind Secaucus High School and rows of condos with decks overlooking the water, we learned that the Hackensack River begins in New York at Lake Lucille and flows through the northern portion of New Jersey. It meets the Passaic River in Newark Bay and both rivers travel out around Staten Island where they meet the Hudson. Our trip took us under Route 3 through East Rutherford and then into Rutherford heading toward Kearny.

"Nature knows no boundaries its we who put the boundaries on the map," says Bennett-Meany. "Whatever happens up river affects everybody down river and vice versa. The ecosystem is a whole. I dont know when we are ever going to look at it that way."

There was great excitement on board as our boat glided toward an old radio tower on the bank of the river. Way above our heads we could see a huge osprey nest. It was our lucky day as mom, dad, their two babies, and a visitor were all at home.

"We know that this pair only fledged two young and we have been spotting five birds on the nest. We are not sure where the fifth is coming from, it could be from down river," our guide suggests.

There are currently three known active osprey nests in the Meadowlands. Just a few years ago these birds that were once on the brink of extinction never stayed around to hunt in this region and certainly didnt see it as prime nesting property. That has changed thanks to a cleaner environment and no shortage of fish.

"This is the third year that this couple has successfully raised young here in the Meadowlands," says Bennett-Meany.

Vera Lawlor writes about a nearby destination each month in The Parent Paper.

Resources

Pontoon boat tours are offered through September for ages 10 and up. The suggested donation is $15 per person. Pre-registration is required. The NJMC also offers canoe tours through September. Equipment is supplied; $15 per person. For more information on both tours, call 201-460-4640.

The William D. McDowell Observatory is open to the public for star gazing on Monday and Wednesday evenings, weather permitting. Free. The Observatory is located on the NJMC campus in DeKorte Park, 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. Information and hours (which vary by season): 201-777-2416; or go to www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec and click on William D. McDowell Observatory.

The NJMC fall programming revolves around the theme of "Astronomy and the Universe." Programs have a nominal fee. To register for a program, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec and click on "Community Programs." For more information, call 201-460-8300.

First-Sunday-of-the-Month Nature Walk, 10 a.m. Sept. 4 with the NJMC and the Bergen County Audobon Society (BCAS). This free two-hour guided nature walk starts outside the Meadowlands Environment Center in DeKorte Park. To register, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at greatauk4@aol.com or call 201-230-4983.

Third-Tuesday-of-the-Month Nature Walk with the NJMC and BCAS, 10 a.m. Sept. 20. This free two-hour guided nature walk is through Harrier Meadow in North Arlington. The 70-acre site, usually off limits to the public, features ponds and tidal impoundments and plenty of birds. If weather permits, there may be a bird-banding demonstration by an NJMC naturalist. For more information, call 201-230-4983.

For a complete list of NJMC upcoming events and programs, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov

The Hackensack Riverkeeper, Inc. operates a number of eco-cruises on the Hackensack River. The mission of the non-profit organization is to protect and defend the environmental quality of the eco-system of the estuary, river and watershed and the quality of life for the people and other creatures that inhabit the Hackensack River watershed. In addition to the cruises, the organization rents out kayaks, offers guided paddle-boat tours of the river and also sponsors guided bird walks.

The Hackensack Riverkeeper Inc., 8th Annual Festival of Birding, takes place September 10 and 11 at the Meadowlands Environment Center, Two DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. All ages welcome. $40 per person (includes some meals). For a list of upcoming eco-cruises and more information, call 201-968-0808, or visit www.hackensackriverkeeper.org.

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Suckers in Hackensack
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2012, 02:43:55 PM »
In the video he says he is near "Zabriskie Pond" but there's a pond by that name in Wyckoff too. I'm not sure where he filmed this.

Hugh Carola, Hackensack Riverkeeper, thinks they are suckers. He mentioned Teaneck Creek has a run of them each year and that Blueback Herring are running in the Hackensack now as well.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 02:47:45 PM by Editor »

Offline just watching

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2012, 06:49:10 PM »

That could be Coles Brook just upstream of Main Street bridge, which is exactly where Zabriskie's Pond was.  The filmer doesn't show much surrounding area, but around 2:40 in the video he films upstream.  The steep embankment on the left side could be the steep embankment along South Lake Drive, and on the right side, there is a lower-lying area similar to that behind the stores on Route 4. Coincidence ???  The Coles Brook at that location has small basalt boulders, dark grey in color, similar to those in the video.  At 3:09, right before the end of the video, he films downstream. There is a bridge.  It could be the Main Street bridge, but then again the railing does not look familiar.  So maybe that's all a coincidence.

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2012, 10:40:49 PM »
Birds, boaters flock to Meadowlands as conditions on Hackensack River improve
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012, 1:06 PM     Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012, 1:07 PM
By S.P. Sullivan/NJ.com



CARLSTADT More birds mean more fish, and more fish mean the overall health of the Hackensack River is improving.

"The water quality's a lot different," Ian McDermott, manager of buildings and open space for the NJ Meadowlands Commission, told NJ.com at the edge of the river recently. "Five, six years ago you'd see a lot vegetation started changing."

Phragmites, the thick, reedy invasive species that had spread through much of the meadows is slowly ceding its territory to spartina, a native marsh grass.

"So that's showing you're having a healthy marsh area now," McDermott said.

The commission is offering pontoon boat and canoe tours all summer to show off the improvements along the river, letting visitors explore environs they'd usually drive right over on their way to work.

After a recent tour, McDermott gave a catalogue of the birds the pontoon boat had encountered: egrets, seagulls, tree swallows and some yellow-crowned night herons, who have also seen a comeback in recent years.

Along the rusted railroad trestles and bridges that span the river, he also pointed out the nests of peregrine falcons and osprey, who have made their homes atop the hulking industrial structures.

"It's a little oasis in northern New Jersey," McDermott said.

To tour the Hackensack by canoe or pontoon boat, visit the commission's website. Pre-registration is required and a $15 minimum donation is suggested.

2012 NJ.com. All rights reserved.

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2013, 01:01:15 AM »
This is definitely on my "wish list" for Hackensack.  Seems very doable,- perhaps at Foschini Park. 



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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2013, 07:36:13 AM »
Yeah, I agree, and for Johnson Park as well, let's say 100 feet north of the Anderson Street bridge.  Too bad it would probably take two years and $30,000 in engineering and environmental studies just for the NJDEP permits.  That's government for ya.

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2013, 01:41:17 AM »
3 brave souls take a dip in polluted Hackensack River to make a point
Thursday, July 25, 2013    Last updated: Friday July 26, 2013, 6:52 AM
BY  SCOTT FALLON
STAFF WRITER
The Record
 
SECAUCUS There are 26 municipal pipes that flush raw sewage into the Hackensack River during heavy rainstorms. One of the rivers major tributaries Berrys Creek has among the highest concentrations of mercury in the nation. And for years, garbage water from landfills in the Meadowlands would routinely flush into the river.


Environmentalist Rich Dwyer wades into the Hackensack River Thursday at the boat launch at Laurel Hill County Park in Secacus to remind people of the Clean Water Act and why the waterway ought to be cleaned up enough for swimming.
TYSON TRISH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Armed with this knowledge, three brave souls took a short dip in the Hackensack on Thursday to remind the public that even though the river is clean enough to boat and fish on, it isnt clean enough to swim.


This is more a protest than anything else, said Bill Sheehan, head of the Hackensack Riverkeeper environmental advocacy group and one of the daring trio. Anybody ought to be able to swim here, and they cant.

The event was part of a four-day international event called Swimmable Water Weekend aimed at advocating for the health of waterways worldwide.

Four decades after the passage of the federal Clean Water Act, the Hackensack has slowly come back from the days when it was one of North Jerseys largest dumping grounds. But it is still faces an almost daily barrage of pollution from sewage overflows, street runoff and industrial spills among other sources.

The lower Hackensack, which snakes its way from Newark Bay through the Meadowlands, is still not approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection for primary contact recreation like swimming because of the risk of ingesting harmful bacteria.

It was the unseasonably chilly breeze and light rain that kept most of the people gathered at Laurel Hill County Park out of |the water Thursday more than |the threat of gastrointestinal infection.

While others barely got their feet wet, none of the three who ventured farther out into the river from a boat launch risked their health by putting their heads under water. On shore, supporters mostly members of Hackensack Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance joked that it resembled more a baptism than a swim. Were going to sacrifice ourselves to the biological gods, Sheehan said.

Participants said they hoped their act would persuade environmental regulators to enforce the Clean Water Act. There are a lot of laws in place that arent being utilized, said Rachel Cook, director of operations for the Waterkeeper Alliance who went shoulder-deep into the Hackensack.

Sheehan said the biggest threat to the river are the 26 combined sewer outfalls points where sewage from Hackensack, Ridgefield Park, North Bergen and Jersey City end up in the waterway when treatment systems are inundated. The industrial pollution like the mercury from Berrys Creek mostly settles into the sediment at the bottom of the river.

The river is still polluted enough that oysters placed in the waterway in Lyndhurst, Secaucus and Jersey City to help filter contamination died or became deformed, according to a 2011 survey by Rutgers University scientists.

And while fishing is popular, state officials urge anglers to avoid eating crabs, eels and perch from the lower Hackensack. You can have only one meal of white catfish a year and four of striped bass.

The good news is that the river has more oxygen and fewer harmful metals than it did 20 years ago. Fish have returned in such large numbers that the birds, like osprey, who eat them are back nesting along the Hackensacks banks. Landfills that used to routinely collapse into the river are now being capped and reinforced. And the river has become a destination for kayakers and other boaters.

I think its more of a celebration, said Rich Dwyer, 54, of Bayonne, who floated on a pool noodle. There was a time when I would not go in. Now its not nearly as bad.

Email: fallon@northjersey.com
- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/bergen/hackensack_river_dip.html#sthash.YU2ux3w2.dpuf

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2013, 02:31:38 PM »
Life in the Hackensack continues to improve, observers and studies say
Thursday, September 5, 2013
BY  BRIAN ANDERSON
STAFF WRITER
South Bergenite
   
It was there before the New Jersey Turnpike, the industry and obviously, the people. After years of pollution, waste and neglect, the Hackensack River is slowly but surely making a comeback as an ecological gem in northern New Jersey.


The Meadowlands area is brimming with life. Diamondback terrapins sun themselves on logs.
PHOTO COURTESY/ JIM WRIGHT NJMC


Hawks enjoy the many fish in the wetlands.
FILE PHOTO

Researchers and environmentalists have observed a revival of the river in two ways: one is the eyeball test, and the other is through studies.

Jim Wright has been at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) for just over five years, but in that time, he said hes seen "significant changes" to the wildlife that lives in the Meadowlands. Wright is a birder who runs the online nature and wildlife blog for the NJMC and the author of "The Nature of the Meadowlands."

Unusual birds can be found up and down the river and in its marshessome birds make nests within the district, while others just stop by for some eating. He said large predators, like bald eagles, falcons and other raptors are common in the Meadowlands once again. "Its really not a surprise to see a bald eagle on a walk now," he said.

When Wright first arrived at the NJMC in the spring of 2008, he said bald eagles were rare to see. Now, theres a pair successfully nesting near the Hackensack River and next to the Meadowlands.

The shorebird pool at DeKorte Park also attracts other migratory birds throughout the year, Wright said.

One success story, and one that points to the better quality of the environment on the Hackensack River, is the osprey. For over 70 years, ospreys werent nesting in the Meadowlands, according to Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan. Ospreys are birds of prey and eat fish, so if theres fish in the river, the birds will stay and nest.

In 2007, ospreys began nesting along the Hackensack River again, and Wright said this year, there were five successful osprey nests - one nest was knocked out by Hurricane Sandy.

"Its a bed and breakfast," said Wright, about the Meadowlands and the river. "Theres a rotating population of birds."

Even bugs can tell a story. Wright said hes seen more dragonflies this year; theyre one of those "canary in a coalmine" species, he said, and an increased population probably attests to better water quality of the river.

In 2005, the NJMC completed a fish study that looked at fish populations in the Hackensack River between 2001 and 2003, and compared the findings to a similar study that was conducted between 1987 and 1988. The study revealed that compared to 15 years ago, many of the same species live in the river but the fish population was more evenly distributed. "The river is no longer overwhelmingly dominated by the mummichog (a pollution tolerant species) and the fish community has gained more desirable game species," the report states. It continues that larger fish, such as striped bass, white perch and carp were more abundant in the early 2000s than they were in the late 1980s.

A change in diversity over the 15 years between the studies was greatest in the upper parts of the Hackensack River, but was basically unchanged in the lower section, according to the study.

"All of this, in addition to the large increases in the numbers of pollution sensitive amphipods collected as by-catch during the fisheries collections attest to the improvements in water quality that have slowly occurred between the 1987-88 and 2001-03 studies," the report states.

Even the small things barnacles and benthic macroinvertebrates (snails, clams and worms) also continue to make a comeback, according to Brian Aberback, an information officer for the NJMC.

"Twenty years ago barnacles were unheard of in the Meadowlands District because the river was too polluted to support them," Aberback said.

According to another study done in the early 2000s by the NJMC, the small invertebrates that live on the riverbed had increased in number and abundance since the late 1980s. Those small creatures eat organic matter on the bottom of the river and return nutrients to the riverbed, and are a source of food for fish, turtles and crabs.

One study that NJMC researchers are still conducting involves diamondback terrapins. Since 2009, more than 900 turtles have been caught, tagged and released back into the river, Aberback said. Recent catches revealed that many turtles have not yet been tagged, meaning the population of turtles living in the river is increasing.

But, theres still some not-great aspects of the river. Oysters that were pulled from the river in the spring of 2011 had tissue abnormalities, tumors and thin shells. Entire cages of oysters had died out, especially ones located near old industrial sites and landfills. The oyster study was conducted by Rutgers University and the Riverkeeper.

And New Jersey prohibits the eating of blue crabs caught in the Hackensack River because of high levels of cancer-causing elements found in their flesh. Signs posted up and down the river, as well as along the Passaic River, advise fisherman not to eat the blue crabs.

Judith Weis, a Rutgers professor who has studied the Hackensack River for over a decade, said despite the health advisory, the blue crabs can and do thrive in the river. The blue crabs eat a strange dietmostly mud and sediment, which is abnormal from a typical blue crabbut grow and continue to live on the bottom of the river.

"Theyre doing OK despite the fact that they are not quite normal," she said.

Bluefish that are born in the river before heading out to the ocean are typically smaller and less active because of the contamination, Weis said. But she said theres been no studies on how that affects the blue fish once they make it to the ocean.

Sheehan remembers the 1960s and 70s when the Hackensack River was so polluted, very few animals could live in it. It was polluted both with everyday trash and hard metal contaminates from industrial sites that dumped straight into the river.

Once the Clean Water Act was passed and sewerage treatment made advancements to keep pollution out of the waterway, the Hackensack is slowly recovering. As the river recovers, so does the life in it and the life that relies on it.

"Whats going on is a revival of the fishery resource," he said. "And that brings in the birds."

Sheehan said he estimates theres at least 65 species of marine life living in the river, and that marine life attracts birds to the area that then stay around because theres enough food. Years ago, birds found very little to eat in the river he said, but many different bird species now either call the Meadowlands home, or migrate and stop along the Hackensack River to feast on the aquatic life in the river.

"Its not just the birds, its not just the fish," he said. "The food web is coming back together."

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Re: Hackensack River Eco-tourism
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2013, 02:36:42 PM »
Non-profit opens a kayak center in Overpeck Park
Wednesday, September 4, 2013    Last updated: Thursday September 5, 2013, 8:34 AM
BY  JAMES M. O'NEILL
STAFF WRITER
The Record


Carol Reksen of Cliffside Park paddles kayak she rented from the Hackensack Riverkeeper in Overpeck Creek on Wednesday, September 4 in Leonia.
MARKO GEORGIEV/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Photos: Instagram Photos of kayaking in Overpeck Creek - See more at:
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Ron and Carol Reksen take frequent walks around the lake at Overpeck Park in Leonia, and in the past few weeks they noticed more kayakers dotting the water. So on Wednesday, beneath a spotlessly blue late-summer sky, they decided to try kayaking for the first time themselves.

The retired Cliffside Park couple rented kayaks from the non-profit Hackensack Riverkeepers new kayak center by the lake, then headed down Overpeck Creek for a two-hour, self-propelled adventure with nature.

As the sun reflected off the breeze-ruffled water as if it were cut glass, a little back water snake slithered across the waters surface. Then a great blue heron dipped out of the sky, circled, and with a few powerful, slow wing beats made a gentle landing on the riverbank.

Its a great treat to be able to experience this so close to home, Carol Reksen said, as her pale blue kayak bobbed on the calm water. I love it.

Hackensack Riverkeeper opened the kayak center about four weeks ago, and has seen a steady trickle of renters each day that its open.

Theres nothing more powerful to get people interested in the river than being out on it, said Hackensack Riverkeeper Bill Sheehan.

The whole point behind this as a non-profit is to introduce more people to the river and to the mission of our organization, Sheehan said. Were always yelling about getting more public access on our waterways. Well, were actually doing it.

Ron Kistner, director of the Bergen County Parks Department, said people had been looking for the chance to rent kayaks, and it was something the county had been hoping to offer. When Bill offered his group to oversee the program, it was a win-win, Kistner said. They have been doing this a long time, and know how to teach new people the proper kayak techniques.

He said about 125 people have been renting the kayaks on weekends.

A few yards upstream from the Reksens, Thomas and Nadine Wold of New Milford were also out on the lake in two red kayaks they own. They had just gotten off work, and had a small cooler filled with sandwiches and drinks. We come out, enjoy the scenery, get some exercise, anchor, have a meal, then continue kayaking, Thomas Wold said. When they turn around, with the wind at their backs, Wold said, he raises a small homemade sail that attaches to his kayak.

They often kayak on the Hackensack River, between River Edge and Hackensack, but that sort of trip requires checking the tides, because the river is tidal and the current can be strong. The same holds true for the Hackensack Riverkeepers older kayak center, on the Hackensack at Laurel Hill Park in Secaucus.

The Overpeck Park site is definitely one of the best places to learn, because its protected and calm, said Tom Quinn of Ridgefield Park, a Hackensack Riverkeeper staffer who helps run the kayak center.

We do get a lot of beginners here, he said. Some kids are nervous when they start out, but they come back after being out on the lake entirely different.

Hackensack Riverkeeper was founded in 1997, and in 1999 it established the first kayak center at Laurel Hill Park. It took me years just to convince people it was relatively safe to paddle on the river, Sheehan said.

Program director Hugh Carola said they now attract about 1,000 kayak renters a year at that site.

The Overpeck rentals go for $15 for two hours, and $10 per hour after that. The center is open Wednesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to sunset, and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The times may change as sunset gets earlier. The center will be closed November to the end of April.

At Laurel Hill Park, rentals are $25 per day with no time limit.

I just aim for these endeavors to be self-sustaining, enough to pay for insurance and staff, Sheehan said.

The Hackensack Riverkeeper and Bergen County will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the kayak center this Saturday at 9 a.m. County Executive Kathleen Donovan is scheduled to attend.

That event will be followed by the third annual Hackensack River Paddle, designed to support water-based recreation and benefit the Hackensack Riverkeeper.

The events include a paddling competition with adult and youth divisions.

To reach the kayak center, use the parks Fort Lee Road/DeGraw Avenue entrance. At the first traffic circle, make a right, go over the parks new wooden bridges, and the kayak center is on the left.

Email: oneillj@northjersey.com Twitter: @JamesMONeill1

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/leonia/Non-profit_opens_a_kayak_center_in_Overpeck_Park_to_introduce_more_to_the_river.html#sthash.bQRlAQiu.dpuf