Flickers flew from the ground like a flushed covey of quail, a flock of Grackles greeted my presence and an Osprey stood alert atop an old White Birch. The sweet smelling white flowers of the summer sweet have all faded now. the Sassafras, Sweet gums and the Oak trees still hold on as fall fast approaches and I was sure the Great Horned Owls watched as I walked purposely along the forest trail.
Ferns still stood tall in tribute to a time long ago. A Hairy Woodpecker suddenly clings to a tree right over your head and a Red-tailed Hawk watches over its empire from its nearby perch. You are in Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry.
Losen Slote (Dutch for Winding Creek) is one of the last stands of hardwood lowland forest in the Meadowlands District and one of the last that is accessible to the general public. A 22-acre hidden gem in an otherwise congested part of Bergen County, where birders can see migrants such as Hooded and Blackburnian Warblers, where the music of the Wood Thrush still echoes through the forest and the Kingfisher’s rattling call can be heard along the creek’s edge. A critical and highly sensitive lowland forest habitat where the Muskrat, Red Fox and our natural sense of wonder are still allowed to roam free.
At times it is very easy to forget where you as the Losen Slote trails take you to places that could easily be mistaken for the valleys of Sussex and Warren counties and yet as beautiful as our northern forests are Losen Slote Creek Park. Considered by the US Fish & Wildlife Service as critical wildlife habitat, Losen Slote may actually be even more significant to the many unique species of plants and wildlife that still thrive and depend on it for their survival.
Biodiversity takes precedence at Losen Slote, from the unique plant life to vast number of migratory birds that utilize the wooded as well as the meadow habitats. Fourteen native tree species, 12 Native Ferns, and 20+ native Shrubs still thrive there and well over 150 bird species nest or use it as their migratory stopover as they battle to continue on their long treacherous journey.
The park, like many in our area, has not been without its problems. Some like and cherish it and fight to preserve it while some others still wish to exploit and abuse it for their own selfish purposes. Some like to still point the finger at who is responsible for caring for the park. But I will end the controversy right here and now. I am responsible for the care of Losen Slote Park, and oh yes, you are responsible too, as is anyone that cares about having such a special place for both wildlife and people.
My late younger brother Todd was my partner. We grew up loving every minute we spent in the Meadowlands. He still walks with me at places like Losen Slote Park. It is a wonderful place, a gem in the middle of suburbia. It needs to be protected, cherished and looked after by all of us who care about the future of such special places.
Take a walk in the wilderness of Losen Slote. The trails, the birds the flowers and the magic are waiting for you.