Monthly Archives: October 2020

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Skeetkill Marsh, A Refuge Among Steel and Concrete

Photo by Don Torino Above. All other photos by Jim Macaluso

Amid the concrete and iron, along the steel rails and paved roads, within the highways, parked cars, power lines, jet noise and people rushing off to work lies an overlooked natural Eden where Green-winged Teal gather, Yellowlegs organize and Black Skimmers fly in formation.

Black Skimmers

Most times overlooked, unheeded and ignored by our human fragilities, and yet continuing on regardless of who might be watching, or for that matter if anyone cares to see, an oasis, an island of an Ark, a refuge, a sanctuary and an asylum of wildlife called Skeetkill Marsh

Skeetkill Marsh is a 16.3-acre sigh of relief in the town of Ridgefield, a place where hardworking people battle to make a living, put food and the table and keep a roof over their head much as the wildlife fights to survive at Skeetkill Marsh.

White-crowned Sparrow

From Soras to Sparrows, Sandpipers to Skimmers, and Kestrels to Cattails,  Skeetkill Marsh survives as the example in suburbia as a case study of what can be accomplished, saved and protected in an otherwise hostile setting. In a location that perhaps should not have been there and yet due to the forethought of good people who cared Skeetkill Marsh simply and purely does.

Wilson’s Snipe

Skeetkill Marsh should stand as a testament to what can be done when people care, a human testimony that shows how important even preserved small places can be to wildlife. A living, thriving triumph that holds on to the birds, plants and wildlife, that is the last place for them to exist and one of the final places close to home where we can still find a much needed connection to a world that is quickly slipping by us.

 The future of wildlife, many now threatened and endangered, depend on all of us protecting places like Skeetkill Marsh. Although strong and resilient they now depend on human intervention and cannot thrive on their own.

Pollution, invasive plants and human encroachment all need to be watched and scrutinized through the eyes of future generations that will need to stay ever vigilant to be sure places like Skeetkill Marsh still exist not only for the wildlife  but also for human kind. When all is said and done we will not thrive or survive without nature and places like Skeetkill Marsh

See you in the Meadowlands

BCAS Halloween Family Nature Walk at DeKorte Park – Oct. 31 at 10 a.m.!

Start off Halloween by getting out in nature with the Bergen County Audubon Society! The BCAS will lead a special Halloween Family Nature Walk at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to noon.

As an extra bonus, if come in your halloween costume you will get a FREE BCAS TOTE BAG for your Trick or Treating ! Contact: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.

Nominations Open for BCAS Jill Homcy Memorial Award

Bald Eagle Photo By Jill Homcy

The Bergen County Audubon Society is proud to announce the establishment of the Jill Homcy Memorial Award. The award will honor Jill’s memory by recognizing a photographer or videographer whose skill and passion behind the lens has raised awareness to preserve and protect wildlife and natural habitat in our region. If you would like to nominate or make us aware of a deserving person please let us know. Email Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com

Reminder: BCAS Walk at Losen Slote Creek Park Next Tuesday (Oct. 20)

Join the Bergen County Audubon Society next Tuesday (Oct. 20) as they lead a walk through Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry, one of the last lowland forests in the Meadowlands. The walk goes from 9 to 11 a.m.

Check out BCAS President Don Torino’s recent column on the wonders of Losen Slote here

Contact: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.

Thank You Numerator for MCT Skeetkill Creek Marsh Cleanup!

Left to right, background: Don Smith, Patrick Lynch, Marc Jaffe. Foreground: Dana Blumenfeld.

Many thanks to the employees from the Numerator company who last Friday conducted a cleanup of the Meadowlands Conservation Trust’s Skeetkill Creek Marsh property in Ridgefield. The employees filled several garbage bags with litter and debris and cut away brush and branches blocking the park trail. The volunteer cleanup was supervised by Don Smith.

BCAS Walk at Losen Slote Creek Park Next Tuesday (Oct. 20)

Join the Bergen County Audubon Society next Tuesday (Oct. 20) as they lead a walk through Losen Slote Creek Park in Little Ferry, one of the last lowland forests in the Meadowlands. The walk goes from 9 to 11 a.m.

Check out BCAS President Don Torino’s recent column on the wonders of Losen Slote here

Contact: Don Torino at greatauk4@gmail.com or 201-230-4983.

Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Bergen County Audubon – Harold Feinberg Conservation Award Winners 2020

As Bergen County Audubon President I couldn’t be more proud to announce our 2020 Conservation Award winners. These two amazing women have dedicated themselves to protecting and preserving our environment and have created a better place not only for wildlife but also a healthier planet for all of us to live.

Alexa Fantacone 

Alexa has been the Executive Director of Teaneck Creek Conservancy for the past five years. Within this role, and in her personal life, she is committed to conservation and inspiring others to protect our environment.

She is a mentor and enthusiastic educator of students who visit Teaneck Creek. Alexa makes environmental education exciting and captivates students with hands-on programs that engage them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning, water quality testing, invasive species removal and more. She goes out of her way to make personal connections with students and learn about their passions. Alexa gives students a new passion for the natural world and many express an interest in pursuing careers in conservation, environmental science and STEM. She is particularly inspiring to young girls who come to see science as an exciting career option for women.

Alexa is also the Chairwoman for the Nature Program Cooperative, where she works to bring together the knowledge and resources of nature centers, parks, and environmental educators in Northern New Jersey. In addition, she recently became a board member at EarthShare, a national conservation organization which connects environmental nonprofits with companies in order to increase the impact of donations and volunteer actions. During her free time Alexa volunteers at Tenafly Nature Center’s aviary, feeding the raptors. 

Nancy Slowik

Nancy serves as Urban Naturalist Program Coordinator at the New York Botanical Garden. She also acts as lead consultant for the Restore Native Plants team, directing the propagation facility at the Ramapo Mountain Park Preserve since 2013. In that capacity, Nancy provides guidance for native plant propagation and restoration projects. She formulates planting patterns to attract wildlife and enhance biodiversity. Nancy has been teaching natural history programs and leading guided walks in Bergen County and the greater metropolitan area for 35 years and is the author of A Naturalist’s Guide to the Southern Palisades (2006).

Many BCAS members may know Nancy as Naturalist/Director of Greenbrook Sanctuary where she taught and mentored for more than 25 years. Her contribution as a conservation educator and her stewardship of the Sanctuary established her reputation as a dedicated protector of the environment of the southern Palisades. Nancy’s tenure at Greenbrook helped foster many collegial relationships with local naturalists and cooperative programs, working with Bergen Swan, Stateline Hawkwatch, and training for the TCC Weed Warriors.

She has been a research associate for Hudsonia Field Station, where she has contributed to biodiversity assessments and research projects.  Nancy was the co-founder of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center – the first native plant propagation program for the New York City Parks Department.