Photos by Brian Aberback/NJMC
More than 50 middle school students, local businesspeople and Ridgefield residents joined forces on Thursday to clean the Skeetkill Marsh as part of the Meadowlands Conservation Trust’s (MCT) annual Clean-Up Day.
The cleanup was organized as part of the MCT’s Park Stewardship Program, which recruits volunteers from corporations, schools, civic clubs and other organizations for clean up and site maintenance projects.
Volunteers spent three hours removing more than 50 bags of litter from around the marsh and public sitting area, including food wrappers, soda bottles, metal rope, plaster and a truck tire.
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The participants included 25 seventh- and eighth-graders from the Slocum Skewes School Environmental Club, members of the Ridgefield Environmental Commission, and employees of Genzyme Biosurgery, a biotechnology company with offices across the road from Skeetkill Marsh.
The employees are part of Genzyme’s “Green Team,” which oversees the company’s eco-friendly initiatives. Neighborhood Landscaping provided Dumpsters for the event and will perform further maintenance work on the grounds.
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) acquired the 16-acre marsh for preservation in 1996 and transferred ownership to the MCT in 2008.When the NJMC purchased Skeetkill, it was overgrown with the invasive common reed Phragmites, lacking wildlife and filled with litter.
The Commission cleaned and restored the marsh, which today teems with wildlife. Egrets, great blue herons and mockingbirds can be seen feeding on the fish that now fill the shallow waters, and Skeetkill is home to a variety of plants, including swamp rose, dwarf spikerush and saltmarsh hemp.
The Meadowlands Conservation Trust is the only public land trust in the Northeast region of New Jersey, covering 54 municipalities within the Hackensack River Watershed in Bergen and Hudson counties. Founded in 1999, the Trust has acquired and protected more than 800 acres of open space.
The Trust is eager to work with municipalities and other public/private entities on open space projects in order to ensure the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s last parcels of open land for perpetuity.
For more information on becoming a Park Stewardship Program volunteer, contact Laura Machuca at email@example.com or by calling (201) 460-2802.