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Bergen SWAN is a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Upper Hackensack River Watershed. We are involved in preserving natural lands as open space for water quality protections and passive recreation, and conducting hands-on environmental restoration and educational programs.
Bergen SWAN's primary focus has been on the preservation of the natural lands surrounding the drinking water supply reservoirs in Bergen and Rockland counties. To date, we have been a major force in saving over 8oo acres from residential and commercial development. We work with numerous national and regional land trusts to negotiate land preservation deals. In 1997, we established the Hackensack River Watershed Fund to facilitate the financing of local watershed lands threatened with development.
Bergen SWAN actively promotes, supports the passage of, and defends open space and environmental protection legislation. Among these are:
- Category 1 stream protection for all streams and water bodies in the Upper Watershed
- The Garden State Preservation Trust Fund
- The Watershed Protection Act
- The Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund
- Municipal ordinances prohibiting the use of ATV's on watershed lands
SWAN works toward restoring the ecological integrity of the watershed by:
- Sponsoring projects to clean-up and stabilize the banks of the Hackensack and its tributaries
- Training volunteers to install special plantings and implement erosion and stormwater control measures
- Encouraging homeowners and golf course managers to reduce their use of damaging pesticides and fertilizers
- Working with naturalists, environmental scientists, and community volunteers toward re-establishment of wildlife habitats
- Hiring planners to assist municipal agencies in modifying poor land use practices by passing shade tree ordinances, creating open space and natural resource inventories, and encouraging developers and commercial property owners to implement best management practices
Through sponsorship of educational workshops, school lectures, and outdoor events, we give students, citizens, and public policy makers a new vision of our watershed buffer forests to motivate them to work toward protecting these lands and enhancing their natural beauty and functioning. We have helped create passive recreation nature trails in Emerson Woods and at Poplar Sanctuary in River Vale.
- Mark Becker
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