The Hackensack Meadowlands is the largest brackish estuarine complex in the
New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary and among the largest in the northeastern
United States. The Meadowlands supports remarkable biodiversity. Using the Meadowlands are more than 275 species of plants, 115 species of invertebrates, 45 species of fish, 25 species of amphibians and reptiles, 332 species of birds, 24 species of mammals, and approximately 25 State-listed species, and 42 species considered rare or uncommon in the urban core. Yet, over the last 150 years, industry and development have filled in well over half of the area’s original 21,000 acres, polluting its lands and waters. Invasive exotic species, environmental contaminants, and water quality are major issues confronting the successful restoration of the Meadowlands.
In response to Congressional direction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed this document, titled The Hackensack Meadowlands Initiative: Preliminary Conservation Planning, to promote successful clean-up and restoration projects and to encourage the critical and much-needed support of other regional activities (e.g. , water-supply, sewage-treatment, and flood-control planning). Successfully cleaning up and restoring the Meadowlands and integrating those actions with other regional planning will not only help protect the region’s fish and wildlife but will also provide recreational and educational opportunities for the 20 million residents in the surrounding metropolitan area.
The Hackensack Meadowlands Initiative: Preliminary Conservation Planning was prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide a foundation for enhancement and restoration of the Hackensack Meadowlands in Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey and to promote a vision for the Meadowlands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision includes:
(1) a more natural estuarine ecosystem with healthy fish and wildlife resources;
(2) a cleaner environment (progressive reduction in acute and chronic contaminant effects);
(3) diverse wetland and associated communities that sustain local and regional populations of native species, including federal trust fish and wildlife resources; and
(4) public commitment to and diverse social benefits from the Meadowlands.
To attain this vision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s overall goal for the Meadowlands is to sustain and safeguard the Meadowlands ecosystem, including its fish and wildlife resources. This goal will be achieved through conservation partnerships to remediate, enhance, restore, manage, and protect the Meadowlands ecosystem. The Plan also identifies key principles, drawn from federal policies and other guidance, to guide and carry out habitat restoration activities. The Plan provides a historical overview of the region, describes the ecosystem and its biodiversity, identifies priority threats to the Meadowlands, and recommends objectives and future conservation actions.