Tag Archives: Meadowlands Commission

NJSEA Celebrates Black History Month: Underground Railroad

We are honoring Black History Month with a weekly post each Monday throughout February on people and places related to the Meadowlands. The posts are taken from our archives and were originally done by former staffer Jim Wright.


      Runaway slaves from the South took were several routes through New Jersey before and during the Civil War, but those escape routes all had one thing in common: They converged at Jersey City.

  By one estimate, as many as 70,000 runaway slaves escaped through Jersey City.

    If you click on the map on the right (from the state of New Jersey’s Web site), you can see the major New Jersey stops on the Underground Railroad.

   More on Jersey City’s role in the Underground Railroad here.

Meadowlands Nature Blog Celebrates Black History Month

     We are honoring Black History Month with a weekly post each Monday throughout February on people and places related to the Meadowlands. The posts are taken from our archives and were originally done by former staffer Jim Wright.

Today the focus is Tuskegee Airman Calvin Spann, who grew up in Rutherford. Mr. Spann died this past September.

In future weeks we’ll  look at the Underground Railroad in Jersey City, a slave cemetery in Little Ferry, and a famous black actress and civil rights activist who worked in Kearny.

   Calvin J. Spann, who grew up in Rutherford,  served with the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Spann
From 1943 to 1946, 1st Lt. Spann served in the US Army Air Force, 332nd Fighter Group, 100th Squadron, as part of the famed Tuskegee Airmen — the first-ever group of black Army pilots. 
Spann was among an elite group of Tuskegee Airmen who escorted B-17 bombers and reconnaissance  planes over Nazi Germany during World War. Spann flew 26 combat missions.

   In a phone interview yesterday from his home in Texas, Spann said: “My growing up in Rutherford inspired me to be a Tuskegee Airman. Planes from Teterboro Airport took off right over my house.

   “I was able to do everything any young man in high school did, and when I got into the Air Corps and they said they didn’t think I could learn to fly, I thought that was preposterous. I’d been doing everything everyone else was doing all my life, and it really stuck with me. That was my experience growing up in Rutherford.”

    Click here for more with Tuskegee Airman Calvin Spann.

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More Amazing Harbor Seal Pix — & Interview w/Seal Expert!

We were able to take more photos of the Harbor Seal in Carlstadt last week, and thought we would share a large selection here — along with Part II of an interview with Robert Schoelkopf, founding director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.

1-IMG_5670What can you tell us about the Harbor Seal we had in Carlstadt?
   It was a second-year male.

How could you tell it was a male?
   It wasn’t wearing a bikini top on, and the penile opening was visible in the shot you sent.

How could you tell its age?
   We could get an idea of its size by comparing it to the planks on the dock it was lying on. It was probably a 50-pounder, 60 pounder. The first-year ones, when we get ‘em in here, are usually about 35 pounds, 40 pounds.    This one had some fur missing around the neck but other than that, it looked quite healthy.

Where do Harbor Seals live most of the year?
North of Massachusetts.  We’ve done some satellite tagging, and we’ve had them go all the way up into Maine and Canada. They’re interesting animals because we relased oneyear  here and it went all the way down to Chincoteague and spent the winter there, and then made a bee line for Maine.

The rest of the interview — and several more never-seen-before photos — follow.

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Northern Shrike Update 031810: The Bird that Wouldn’t Leave


   Several birders saw the Northern Shrike on Disposal Road in the trees across from the NJMC Maintenance Shed. The bird has now been seen sporadically for 98 days(14 weeks). Photos were taken today.
   At some point we are going to make this dude pay rent.

NJMC Guided Canoe Trips

    The Meadowlands Commission has announced its 2010 Guided Canoe Trip schedule, beginning on Saturday, May 15, at 8:30 a.m. at Mill Creek in Secaucus.
   The trips last roughly three hours, for ages 10 and up. Each canoe will hold up to three people, and it is a good idea to have at least one person in the canoe with some paddling experience.  Registration fee is $15 person, and preregistration is required.
   You can download the schedule and pre-registration form here.

History Project: The Richard W. DeKorte Legacy

6a00e553bb7c20883401287666985e970c  We recently interviewed Paulette Ramsey, who talks about her late husband, Richard W. DeKorte, and his foresight and contributions to the Meadowlands.

   As a state assemblyman in the late 1960s, DeKorte was instrumental in crafting the legislation that created the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. DeKorte Park is named in his honor.

   DeKorte also laid out the foundation for the region’s environmental restoration and economic development over the past four decades.

 6a00e553bb7c20883401287666a89e970cHe also laid out the foundation for the region’s environmental restoration and economic development over the past four decades.

   In the interviews, Mrs. Ramsey talks about her late husband’s foresight and contributions to the Meadowlands, as well as NJMC’s collaboration with Ramapo College and the district today.

A plaque (above) in the lobby of the NJMC Administration Building at DeKorte Park honors his memory.

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New Feature: Directions to NJMC Sites

     Getting to many of the New Jersey Meadowlands locations can be tough — but we are trying to simplify the task.

   At the upper left-hand corner of this blog, we are posting links via Google Maps that enable you to type in your address and get directions to DeKorte Park in Secaucus and elsewhere.

     Note: With most of these Internet mapping sites, Google maps may not list the best option as the first option. Try alternate suggestions, and look at the map to get a better sense of where you need to go.

Minding the Bees


     When we put up American Kestrel boxes at the Erie Landfill, we didn't expect so many tenants, and of the "wrong" species.


  We now have a healthy hive of Honey Bees filling the box.

   What to do?

    We brought in a local beekeeper, who says that the bees should make it through the winter, and that he can transport them to a conventional hive in the spring.

   Since Honey Bees have been under stress of late — colony collapse disorder has killed these bees by the millions in the past few years — we were glad that we have a happy healthy hive in North Arlington.

A Walk To Remember

   What can you say about a bird walk that begins with an Osprey catching a fish and a Black Skimmer show  (above)– all in the first 15 minutes!

 IMG_0013 The NJ Meadowlands Commission and Bergen Audubon wish to thank all the birders of all skill levels who participated in the holiday weekend walk.

  The Bergen Record's story on the walk is here, with a schedule of upcoming  NJMC/Bergen Audubon walks.

  Not only did we see plenty of neat birds, but we also saw a few neat butterflies, including a glimpse of one that was either a comma or a question mark.

 For now, it remains a question mark. (Which reminds us — our next  NJMC/Bergen Audubon walk is a butterfly walk on July 19.

  We plan to post a list of all the birds seen on the July 6 walk when it's available.

  E-mail Jim Wright here is you would like to rsvp for future walks or to join our e-mail alert list for rare bird sightings and upcoming events.

Awesome Aerial Photography

   For incredible aerial photography on a shoestring, it's tough to top the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute,
   This shot and the ones on the "jump" of this post were taken from a digital camera attached to a tethered helium-filled balloon.

  To see a video of how MERI achieves these amazing shots, click here.

   More posts on MERI are here. MERI's home page is here.

   Click "Continue reading…" to view another photo of the NJMC campus at DeKorte, as well as the Saw Mill Creek WMA tidal mudflat.

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