There was a time about a hundred years ago when salt marshes, tidal creeks, and wetlands framed the southern part of Lincoln Park on Jersey City’s west side.
But much of that natural beauty has vanished, and some of the remaining wetlands have been used by anonymous parties who threw trash there over the years.
On April 22, Earth Day, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke came to an undeveloped part of Lincoln Park – near the future site of Hudson County’s first public golf course – to tout the Lincoln Park Wetland Restoration Project.
The project, which is already under way, will restore approximately 35 acres of wetlands, create 4,500 linear feet of tidal creeks, and initiate a new walking trail near the Hackensack River.
“One thing led to another and here we are with this huge investment.” – Captain Bill Sheehan
The parties involved in the Lincoln Park project are the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hudson County Division of Parks, and the Hudson County Economic Development Corporation.
The project is being funded with $10.6 million in federal money, the largest allotment among 50 projects across the United States being launched this year by the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Locke cited the importance of the project to nature preservation and job creation, saying, “Not only are coastal restoration projects like this one directly employing people; they are preserving the coastlines that are absolutely essential to America’s economy.”
Looking forward to new wetlands
Locke was one of many local, state and federal officials who came out to celebrate the project. Carl Anderson, a marine restoration specialist with NOAA, said when the wetlands restoration project is completed next year, it will bring back a habitat that will attract native birds and fish that have not been seen in the area in years.
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise also spoke. He said he is pleased with the project’s progress. DeGise is also playing a part in the further development of Lincoln Park, as he’s a proponent of the golf course that’s being created there by the county starting next year.
“It’s fitting that on Earth Day of all days, we celebrate the recycling, renewal, and reuse of the very ground here beneath our feet,” DeGise said.
Also showing appreciation for the new project was John Ponticorvo, a teacher at the North Hudson Park Environmental Academy in North Bergen, who brought six of his teenage students to see the area that he said will be an “outside classroom” for them to study wetlands.
“In a place as densely populated as Hudson County, it will be a wonderful experience for kids to go out and get in touch with nature,” Ponticorvo said.
Captain Bill Sheehan, a Secaucus resident who founded the local Hackensack Riverkeeper environmental advocacy group to help preserve the Hackensack River, has been looking forward to the project since discussions about it started in the 1990s.
“We were saying we got to get this park back to the people,” Sheehan said. “One thing led to another and here we are with this huge investment.”
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com.