This past Monday I went on a field trip with a local Central NJ artist group (Highland Park Artist Collective) and we took a guided open boat ride through the Meadowlands. This area is often considered the “typical” New Jersey…you know, industrial, smoke stacks, highway exit signs, old bridges, pollution…and while all this remains true there is also a lot of natural beauty to be found here!
Our knowledgeable Captain/tour-guide sailed us along the Hackensack River and through the Saw Mill Creek Wildlife Management area where we learned about the fast growing native grasses and rushes as well as spotting many NJ species of birds. Surrounded by industrial buildings and highways, here, Nature is reclaiming what was once Hers…she’s covering over ugly landfills and polluted areas with tough plant life that refuses to take no for an answer! Herons, ducks, geese and other bird species were seen going about their Autumnal business as we calmly sailed by. Despite some rain, it was an enjoyable and educational journey and the juxtaposition of man-made metal giants with the natural, organic landscape provided many beautiful photo opportunities.
We glided under old steel bridges like the Pulaski Skyway (which I heard is one of the most dangerous bridges in the area!) and sailed by refineries, but the birds and other wildlife seemed unfazed and continue to thrive despite what humans have done to thwart their survival. This tour, hosted by the NJ Meadowlands Commission at DeKorte Park Plaza (www.njmeadowlands.gov) can be taken by anyone who books one and the commission also offers many other nature/wildlife sites and experiences. I highly recommend that anyone who has a misconception of this area of NJ, or all those interested in local wildlife, should visit and experience it for themselves…it’s truly a welcomed surprise and attests to the fact that New Jersey is still the Garden State…even near the turnpike exits!
Here are some photos I shot during this adventure…