Ducks Unlimited and Hackensack Riverkeeper:
A Marriage Made in the Marsh
By Hugh M. Carola
In September, Hackensack Riverkeeper partnered with the New Jersey Chapter of Ducks Unlimited (DU) for An Evening on the Waterfront, a fundraising reception at Tracey’s Nine Mile House in Little Ferry. That event was the result of a growing relationship that promises to continue well into the future when our two organizations contribute to the management of the Meadowlands Estuary Preserve. Here’s how it all started:
In 2000, when I was working as Coordinator of the Hackensack Meadowlands Preservation Alliance, Mike Panos, DU’s NJ State Chairman, called to learn more about our efforts and to share some of the work they had done on the Harrier Meadow restoration project in North Arlington. Captain Bill and I met Mike, John Spizziri (the current DU State Chair) and several of their colleagues to share information about our work and our dreams for the future.
We found we had a lot in common. Ducks Unlimited is an international organization that works to conserve, restore and manage wetlands for North America’s waterfowl. Hackensack Riverkeeper, of course, works to protect, preserve and restore the Hackensack River watershed, including the Meadowlands, with its 8,400 acres of wetlands, open waters and waterfowl habitat
Since then, the relationship between DU and Hackensack Riverkeeper has blossomed. Both Capt. Bill and I have tabled at DU Annual Dinners as Mike’s guests, and Mike has attended our annual Friends of Hackensack Riverkeeper Awards Celebrations. DU leaders have accompanied federal and state wildlife officials aboard our pontoon boats and together we have logged many hours at conservation meetings.
“Early this year, New Jersey Ducks Unlimited gave a special gift to a lot of kids in North Jersey,” said Capt. Bill. “Mike’s idea was for DU to donate Hackensack Riverkeeper Eco-Cruises to several area schools. They did and it was a great success.”
The collaboration continues. “Grassroots environmental organizations like DU and Hackensack Riverkeeper are playing a critical part in the planning and creation of the Meadowlands Estuary Preserve,” explained Capt. Bill. “Together we are working to ensure that the Meadowlands remains one of our nation’s premier wildlife habitats.”
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