Trail-needing-work-01.jpgUnder the searing heat of the mid-day sun a small group gathered at Eagle Rock Reservation today to hear Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo announce the Eagle Rock reforestation program.
Speaking about the importance of the project, Essex County Horticulturalist Kathy Salisbury pointed to the browse line about four feet from the ground where deer have grazed and left the forest floor barren. “That is a sign of an unhealthy forest,” Salisbury said.
Without the natural layers of undergrowth – ground cover, seedlings, small understory trees and canopy trees – native plants are prevented from growing and non-native trees are able to take root and flourish. This diminishes not only the biodiversity of indigenous vegetation but also animals that depend on native species to survive, Salisbury stated.
“These enclosures are acting like a Noah’s Ark,” Salisbury noted, “so eventually we’ll have a balance of wild flowers, plants and deer.”

Indeed, they will. Five enclosures covering from one to two acres each will be erected to protect the 13,535 newly planted native flora, and they will contain 50 to 60 different species indigenous to Essex County.
The eight-foot high, black wire enclosures are designed to last for 25 years and will prevent large animals like deer from foraging but allow small animals such as birds and rodents through. These animals will help to disburse the seeds throughout the 408-acre reservation, restoring the park, initially designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted in the late 1800’s, to its former, natural glory.
“Today we are going green in Eagle Rock Reservation,” said James Christiano, President of Eagle Rock Reservation Conservancy, which has taken part in the project and procured a NJ Green Acres grant for it. “We are pleased to work with the County to bring the reservation back to what it deserves to be.”
Additional funding came from a grant issued by the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund Advisory Board, which had State Assemblyman Thomas Giblin commending DiVincenzo. “There is no one in the State who is more committed to the environment than Joe DiVincenzo. The creation of the Environmental Center, improvements at the golf courses and projects like this to enhance our parks are examples of his dedication.”
The dedication to the beautification of the reservation goes beyond the reforestation. A decorative wrought iron fence along with landscaping will grace the most visible section of the reservation at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Eagle Rock Avenue, and a fence along the western border will prevent litter from blowing in from the shopping center across the street. Invasive plant species will also be removed. The project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2011.
“What’s being done here will prepare the reservation so future generations can have the same opportunities to enjoy this open space that we have had,” Giblin said.
Freeholder Patricia Sebold agreed, pointing out the particular significance in this area. “Open space is important in a densely populated county like Essex, so projects such as this one are important to preserve important public space.”
While DiVincenzo acknowledge the park was already beautiful, he said, “We are going to make it even better.”
Photo by Phil Cantor, courtesy of the Eagle Rock Reservation Conservancy

12 replies on “Eagle Rock Reservation to Become Even More Beautiful”

  1. Yes. The photo was taken during the Spring because that is when the photographer snapped it.

  2. Very cool project. It would be cooler if they built caged walkways through it so we could see the progress without being allowed to trample, pick or eat it…
    This spring for the first time I went to the Great Swamp Refuge and walked on the boardwalk just above the swamp. It was the first balmy day of spring, and happened to be Frog Mating Day —
    the noise was incredible, and you could see hundreds, if not thousands of frogs with their little heads above water, calling. Also coils of snakes sunning themselves in shrubs, just above the water. An unforgettable experience.

  3. They had a big deer hunt in Eagle Rock and yet I had to avoid 3 of them driving down Undercliff Road last night.

  4. Kit, you will be able to see some of the enclosures from the trails in the reservation, but they will be somewhat difficult to spot since they will be made of wire and so they will blend in w/ the surrounding forest.
    And, Gall, part of the reforestation project includes culling deer (i.e. killing them) and installing deer reflectors to prevent car accidents, but as long as we continue to develop every last possible square inch of space, the deer will have no where to go but on the streets and in our neighborhoods.

  5. News flash: The area has been fully developed for decades, as evidenced by the camparative lack of buildable lots in MTC as opposed to northern and western ex-urbs. That means, that we effectively ceased new development locally. This is New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country, and as such we are extremely fortunate to have the park system and reservations that were carved out with such forethought generations ago. The deer population has steadily been growing arguably beyond what it would have been absent any development, and with the presence of natural predators. It is a problem, and partially an unintended consequence of the actions of urban transplants whose only concept of a deer comes from watching Bambi and have no clue as to how the deer population grew so out of control. A running theme in many posts regarding local wildlife has been the loss of local habitat, which is baloney, and not without a measure of hypocrisy since YOU LIVE HERE TOO!

  6. Cncrnd, clearly this area is densely populated, however, News Flash, it continues to be developed – every little plot of land people can squeeze onto. One of the reasons I moved to this area (originally from central Jersey) was because I wanted to live in an old home so as not to be part of the overdevelopment of NJ. I didn’t want to live in or near McMansions and I didn’t want to live on land that was previously (i.e. last year) farmland (I realize everything was originally woods or farmland). When I moved here nearly a decade ago, I liked the area partially because I figured it was all set – there would be no surprises, no new development. But, News Flash, new development has not ceased. Developers raised all the trees along Bloomfield Ave. in Essex Fells and built townhouses on a tiny spit of land. The wooded area on Fairview across from the Verona town pool that made you feel like you were on a mini vacation up in the mountains when you went to the pool were raise to build million dollar homes – thank God you can’t see them from the pool b/c the pool is down a hill. And then there’s the Hilltop. As soon as they started to develop those woods deer have moved into my neighborhood, which is fine with me but not healthy or natural for the deer – they have nowhere to go. Several times they have run down the middle of the street in the middle of the day.
    And you know what I really love is the use of euphemisms. The deer were culled. Why don’t they call it what it is?

  7. Stacey, You make many good points. I assumed you to be an urban transplant that wouldn’t know the difference between our area and Hunterdon County. Mea Culpa, and congrats for not supporting the McMansion movement on what was indeed last years farm land.

  8. What a fricken waist of money. Fencing off the forest from the deer you have got to be kidding, why not just remove the deer? Dont forget about having to fix the fence everytime a tree or branch falls on it. And it will have to fixed quick like with in days to prevent the deer from reentering…….this will not work. Its amazing that taxes in essex county always go up even during a depression.

  9. cncrnd:
    The question is whether that open space you and your computer are presently found on was ripped up in the 1880’s, or the 1920’s, the 1950’s, or whatever other time in history your particular house was built by a developer. You too, cncrnd, are a transplant from somewhere else. (unless your family are original settlers in the area, but I didn’t think you were Lenni Lenape – correct me if I’m wrong)

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