This is a photo of United Water Headquarters—from the water! As posted previously, there were two opportunities to canoe or kayak the waters of the Oradell Reservoir in the past weeks. On May 26th Bergen SWAN ran a guided paddle from the western shore of the Oradell Reservoir north under the Old Hook Road bridge up to the mouth of the Pascack Brook, paralleling River Rd and Parkside Rd in Harrington Park. Watershed Educator Nancy Slowik identified many birds by sight and song. It was a windy and cool day and many birds could be heard, but were not out flying. There are barn swallows nesting (love the mud condo look!) under the south side of the Old Hook Road bridge – they came up on May 17th, per Nancy– and it was fun to watch them flit around just over the canoes. Higher up we saw chimney swifts- also catching insects. Other bird sightings included: double- breasted cormorants, an egret, and red-tailed hawks.
The Hackensack Riverkeeper ran their 5th Reservoir Challenge on June 1st – this turned out to be a much hotter day, but with a nice breeze. Guided paddles went out at 9am and 2:30 pm; there were morning 5K and 10K races, food and fun music! Demarest Mayor Ray Cywinski won the Mayor’s Cup race for (I believe) the third year in the row. Several birds were seen- again swifts, swallows, cormorants, egrets, and in the distance some type of duck- and deer (and fisherman) were seen at the shore. It was a beautiful day to be out on the reservoir.
The Oradell Reservoir is not open to water sports- these were special events to benefit the two nonprofit organizations. You can access the Oradell Reservior and several other areas of the Upper Hackensack River Watershed owned by United Water for hiking or fishing or birdwatching (no swimming!) if you get a watershed recreation permit. The application link for the permit is: http://www.unitedwater.com/uploadedFiles/Localized_Content/UW_New_Jersey/50/UWNJ_Watershed%20Application%2008.pdf ) With the permit you will get a key (and map) of gates and parking areas/access points.
Interested in learning about the area and the wildlife and want to see what is behind one gate? Join Bergen SWAN and Nancy Slovik on Sunday June 9th from 6-8pm for a Nature Walk around Old Tappan Reservoir. See this link for details and registration information: http://bergenswan.org/happenings.aspx
If you do want to get out on the water locally, there are two more chances in 2013: Lake Tappan will be open for paddling with the Hackensack Riverkeeper on Saturday, August 10th and you can help with a cleanup of the Oradell Reservoir (canoes will be used) on Saturday, September 14th , from 10 am-2pm. http://www.hackensackriverkeeper.org
Finally- a bit about our watershed (Harrington Park is right in the middle of the Upper Hackensack River Watershed). From the Bergen SWAN site http://bergenswan.org/watershed.aspx : The Upper Watershed is comprised mostly of the region north of the (Oradell, NJ) dam that forms the Oradell Reservoir. Towns to the south of the dam that contain a stream draining into the Oradell are also considered part of the Upper Watershed. Approximately 113 Miles square, this sub-watershed encompasses much of Northern Bergen County and parts of Rockland County, NY. If you live in any of the towns or cities within this drainage area, you live in our watershed…this section of the river is marked by unspoiled, mature forests containing towering canopies of evergreens, huge 20″ round cottonwood trees, 100 year old beeches, and woodland swamps. Like the lower portion of the river, the Upper Watershed supports high quality wetlands and crucial wildlife habitat. The forested buffers which surround and protect our waterways fulfill a vital ecological function for human residents as well. Whereas many highly urbanized areas of the country obtain their water supply from a protected watershed outside of the developed region, Bergen County’s one million inhabitants live and work within the watershed on which they depend for their water supply.
(Bergen SWAN will also host a fall afternoon paddle on the Woodcliff Lake Reservoir on Sunday Sept 8th).