Local residents invited to take Meadowlands pontoon tours

Published online: May 17, 2011 News Tricia Tirella - hudsonreporter.com
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Not long after our pontoon boat pulls away from observing an osprey's nest perched high on a radio tower, the fish-eating bird of prey flies toward us, clutching its catch in its talons.

This scene didn't occur in some faraway place, but rather in Secaucus' backyard, with the New York City skyline in the distance. Even so, the Meadowlands are still often thought of as a place of bad smells and the resting place of Jimmy Hoffa.

"What's great about .the ospreys [is that] they all eat fish, and 40 years ago none of these birds were here because there were no fish in the river," said New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) Communication Officer Jim Wright during the boat ride.

The NJMC is a state agency that helps oversee zoning and planning in the Meadowlands region, including 14 municipalities. The Hudson County towns include Secaucus, North Bergen, and Jersey City.

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"What most people find when they are out here in the Meadowlands is that it's incredibly unbelievable." - Gabrielle Bennett-Meany

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The NJMC held a pontoon boat tour for the press on Tuesday, May 10 as a preview to let residents know what to expect from the tours they can take this spring and summer. The two-hour tours run in the morning and evening within this unbelievable habitat.

The 30.4 square miles of the Meadowlands district are a haphazard segment along the Hackensack River, where highways like the Turnpike cross one way, commuter rail bridges cross in the other direction, and defunct remnants of the area's former industrial past spread throughout. The region is a montage of natural areas that have defied the pollution and the public's doubt and are recovering from years of neglect.

"What most people find when they are out here in the Meadowlands is that it's incredibly unbelievable once you are here up close, as opposed to driving on the Turnpike, which you see straight ahead," said Gabrielle Bennett-Meany, the NJMC's senior natural resource specialist, who guided the boat tour last Tuesday.

Read more:Hudson Reporter - Amazing habitat Local residents invited to take Meadowlands pontoon tours

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