Community Leaders Launch Hackensack River Nation Program

Municipal, nonprofit and educational community leaders, who share a love for the Hackensack River, joined together on January 23.  They gathered to launch Hackensack River Nation: an alliance to better protect the river’s watershed and ecosystems.

Twenty people participated.  They represented public agencies and nonprofit organizations in eight municipalities in Bergen County.  Furthermore, Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County and Dimension Renewable Energy (a solar energy company) attended.  The Northern New Jersey Community Foundation (NNJCF) convened these community leaders.  The NNJCF is  partnering with Hackensack Riverkeeper and FDU to spearhead this effort.

Community leaders listen to Michael Shannon, president of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, discuss the launch of the Hackensack River Nation program.

Michael Shannon, president of the Northern New Jersey Community Foundation, spoke to community leaders at the launch of the Hackensack River Nation program.

In a room at FDU overlooking the Hackensack River, the leaders imagined what they could do together to bolster efforts to protect the local environment and also inspire more public affection for the river.

Some ideas include:

  • Helping to get a Hackensack River Greenway along most of the corridor
  • Promoting a stronger culture of caring for the land and natural systems in the area
  • Increasing the diversity of voices involved in protecting the local environment
  • Working to improve public access to the river
  • Sharing knowledge about what various towns and organizations are doing, as well as sharing information on funding opportunities.

Community Leaders to Convene Again

“The leaders will gather again to develop a more robust vision, mission and work plan,” said NNJCF Executive Director Leonardo Vazquez.  The NNJCF is partnering with Hackensack Riverkeeper and Fairleigh Dickinson University to spearhead this effort.  “We will invite more leaders from nonprofits, schools, religious organizations, businesses and towns in Bergen and Hudson counties to join the alliance,” he said.  “Later, we will also invite community members in the watershed to get involved in the alliance.”

The Hackensack River watershed, an area of 197 square miles, includes 59 municipalities in Bergen and Hudson counties, as well as Rockland County, New York.  The water that runs in the streams and percolates in the ground, as well as all the pollution it carries, eventually goes to the Hackensack River.  “The health of the river and its ecosystem depends on how we treat the land and waterways,” Vazquez said.

The group at the meeting included elected and appointed officials from Hackensack, New Milford, Oradell, and Ridgefield Park.  Furthermore, representatives from Park, River Edge and Teaneck attended.  Two professors from FDU were also present.  Community leaders from Hackensack Riverkeeper, Flat Rock Brook, Tenafly Nature Center, and Teaneck Hackensack River Greenway Advisory Board joined.

More information about Hackensack River Nation will be available soon on the NNJCF’s website.



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