Coles Brook Update: Sowing the saplings


By Kathy Urffer


The Coles Brook stream bank restoration in Staib Park, Hackensack is well underway!

On March 23, about a dozen volunteers joined forces with the staffs of Hackensack Riverkeeper and TRC Omni Environmental Services to install about 125 six-foot fascines (8-inch diameter bundles of live willow and dogwood segments) into the banks of Coles Brook. These limbs, as well as the wooden stakes holding them to the earth, have already began to bud and send out roots to stabilize the stream bank!
This first planting was followed by the largest planting we will do at this site. On May 9, several volunteers and I unloaded approximately 1,000 plants, including fifteen ten-foot trees, in preparation for the next dayís planting.

On May 10, many of our hearty volunteers came to help plant them (thankfully!).It was a grueling day of work as I functioned skillfully in my capacity as volunteer slave-driver.Personally, I have never worked that hard in my life and Iím not sure if many of the volunteers will ever forgive me.

Having never managed a planting like this before, I underestimated the work required. Fortunately, I was surrounded by the unstoppable Katie Buckley and Jeremiah Bergstrom from TRC Omni and by the very sensible guys from Ducks Unlimited, who after digging holes by hand for about an hour, threw in the towel and wisely set out to rent an auger. We never would have been able to get all of the plants in the ground without this prudent and generous decision on their part.

A short survey of what has been planted includes: cinnamon fern, bee-balm, cranberry viburnum, pin oak, sweet pepperbush, silky dogwood, spicebush, red chokeberry, buttonbush, royal fern, sensitive fern, swamp white oak, and river birch.

For the next step of the restoration, we have hired Hackensack-based Landscapeworks, Inc. to install the vegetated stormwater swale which will run adjacent and parallel to the Brook to catch the storm water run-off from the fields and parking lot. This swale is designed to reduce the amount of fecal coliform, pesticides, fertilizers, oil and other pollutants that reach the Brook. Although it is the busy season for landscapers, we expect that the swale will be completed in the next few months, allowing our next planting to occur in the fall.

We look forward to watching the plants grow making Staib Park more beautiful and healthier for wildlife as the water quality in the Brook improves.In order to ensure the health of the plants I will need at least two ongoing volunteers to act as stewards in the park to water, weed, etc. about twice a week. If you are interested in helping out in this capacity, or to be added to our volunteer list for this and other projects, contact Kathy Urffer at 201-968-0808, or


Many thanks to the following people:

Jesse D-Amore and the Hackensack City Parks Department

Mike Panos and friends from Ducks Unlimited

Gina Conti

Chris Szeglin

Jon Witsell

Bill Meier

Stewart Kautsch

Rekha & Rohini Rao

Michael Clark

Steve Royka

Mike McNamarra

Glenn Feinberg

Chris Borelli

Shoprite of Hackensack for donating lunch


The Coles Brook restoration project is a cooperative venture between Hackensack Riverkeeper, the City of Hackensack and TRC Omni Environmental Services.Funding for the project is provided through a NJDEP grant under Section 319(h) of the federal Clean Water Act to mitigate non-point source pollution.

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