New Jersey Meadowlands, also
known as the Hackensack Meadowlands after the
primary river flowing through it, is a general name for the large
ecosystem of wetlands in northeast New Jersey in the United States.
Meadowlands Environment Center.
The Meadowlands are known for being the
site of large landfills and decades of environmental abuse.
Meadowlands stretch mainly along the terminus of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers as they flow into Newark Bay; tributaries of the Hackensack include Berrys Creek and Overpeck Creek.
consist of roughly 8,400 acres (34 km²) of open, undeveloped space
in addition to the vast developed areas that previously were part
of the natural wetlands.
Before European settlement, the area consisted of several diverse
eco-systems based on fresh-, brackish-, and saltwater environments.
Large areas were covered by forests. Considered by residents of the
area through the centuries as "wastelands," the Meadowlands were
systematically subject to various kinds of human intervention.
These can be categorized into four major categories:
- Extraction of natural resources - such resources have included
fish, game, etc. In addition, farmers harvested salt hay for feed.
Over time, the resources were either depleted or contaminated by
- Alteration of water flow
- Reclamation, land making, and development. In addition to
landfill from garbage, landmass generated from dredging was also
used to create new land.
- Pollution by sewage, refuse, and hazardous waste - various
types of waste have been dumped legally and illegally in the
Meadowlands. During World War
II, refuse generated by the military during the war was dumped
in the Meadowlands, including rubble from London created by
the Battle of Britain used as
ballast in returning ships.
After the war, the Meadowlands continued to be used for civilian
waste disposal, as the marshes were seen simply as wastelands that
were not good for anything else. The opening of the New Jersey Turnpike in January 1952 only
amplified the continuing environmental decline of the Meadowlands,
as both spurs of the Turnpike travel through the region from the
Passaic River to just past North
New Jersey Meadowlands Commission
location of the New Jersey Meadowlands in proximity to the greater
City metropolitan area and its outgrowth into New Jersey
makes conservation of the vast wetland a difficult
In spite of this, the New Jersey Legislature
, led by
Richard W. DeKorte
, created the Hackensack
Meadowlands Development Commission (since renamed New Jersey Meadowlands
) in 1968 to attempt to address both economic and
environmental issues concerning the wetland region. Even under
grave environmental circumstances, the Meadowlands contain many
species of fish
, and mollusks
and is considered to be an important bird
Congressman Steve Rothman
millions of dollars from the United States Congress
to protect and
preserve the Meadowlands and establish organizations to research
the unique animals and their interaction with the ecosystem. The
ecosystem is a very fragile environment that waterfowl along with
many other species of animals depend on to survive. Richard W.
DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands is an excellent area for bird
watching, particularly for migratory waterfowl
- The Meadowlands Before the Commission: Three Centuries of
Human Use and Alteration of the Newark and Hackensack Meadows,
accessed July 19,
- New Jersey Birds: Meadowlands