I am an unapologetic proud child of the Meadowlands and consider myself more fortunate than many other kids of my day. Although I grew up with very little in the way of material things, from 12 years of age I had the privilege of growing up wandering the fields, meadows and creeks of a unique and special place that will always be dear to my heart. Although my friends and I were made fun of at times for spending so many days exploring the natural world around us rather than playing baseball or just hanging out on the corner it forever became a part of who we are and what we understood in life to be important.
And yet even as a young boy I also was a witness to some of the worst possible crimes that could be committed against nature. Often my friends and I felt helpless as we saw the pollution, the endless dumping everywhere and anywhere, the filling in of wetlands, and places being lost to both wildlife and ourselves that still gives me a deep feeling of loss and what might have been.\
But then came a new movement, the first Earth Day in 1970, that brought a new understanding and concept of what natural wild places should be and how and why we should protect places like the New Jersey Meadowlands for future generations .
The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and many State laws born from the first Earth day are a major part of why we get to enjoy the Meadowlands as it is today. Add to that all the good people from elected officials from both parties to government agencies and ordinary folks like us that joined together to do the right thing when our environment needed it most, something we should never forget. Of course it was not easy, nothing that’s worth fighting for ever is.
Now at times I have been a harsh critic of issues in our Meadowlands that I feel are not right and needs to change but at the same time I am the biggest cheerleader. After all growing up back then there was no Richard DeKorte Park, no Mill creek Marsh Trail or any of the great places for wildlife that we all get to enjoy together. It has been a great privilege for me to be able to lead nature walks for these many years in such a wonderful place, something I never thought this Meadowlands kid would have the honor of doing.
Today there is actually more open water and it is cleaner than it has been in more than 100 years. Now, for the first time in many, many generations, we get to marvel at the Bald Eagle, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon. No Earth Day could ever be better than that.
Make no mistake, there will be battles, conflicts and challenges ahead when it comes to our Meadowlands, and we will all need to join together to make sure we have a healthy Meadowlands for future generations to come. But on this Earth Day let’s get outside and enjoy the Meadowlands and give some thanks to the many devoted people, especially the staff from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), that work hard ever day to make sure the Meadowlands continues to be the place that is close to all of our hearts forever.
I am still a very proud child of the Meadowlands and with everyone’s help I always will be. Thank you to everyone for caring for our Meadowlands
See you there,