Reclamation- Teaneck Reserve Nature Center

As technology and advancing and civilization are consequentially expanding, untouched environments are becoming scarcer and scarcer in industrialized societies. As we are beginning to identify these problems, the importance of nature conservations is being recognized and a bigger effort is being made to spread awareness and encourage individuals to enjoy these sanctuaries devoid of modern contaminations.

The story of the Teaneck Creek Conservatory is a classic example of people fighting for a cause and exceeding through hard work and cooperation.  While the park itself is relatively young, the wetlands it was once a part of has had a large recorded history. Back in the 1600s when this area was originally deeded to a Dutch colonist, the ecosystem was thriving and full of life.

Hundreds of years later in the 1950s, Bergen County began to develop the land, a majority of it being a dumping ground for sanitary waste. In the 1960s the wetlands became further victims of disposal as the construction of New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 80 further lead it to become a dumping ground. The area continued to be an unofficial dumping ground until 2001 when several individuals combined forces with the Puffin Foundation to save a portion of the land as an official conservatory. After a few years of hard work and cooperation with community leaders and the Bergen County Parks Department, they reclaimed the area brought us what is now known as, the Teaneck Creek Conservatory.

What was once a dangerous dumping ground that served as a pretty bleak reminder of how industrialization impacted the environment is now an official nature conservatory that residents are encouraged to explore? The area has been long since cleaned up of debris and now features 1.3 miles of a groomed hiking trails where you can experience the fruit of their labors first hand. Enjoy the thriving plant and wildlife as you discover all the different species that are right here in your backyard! The park was meticulously constructed with the needs of different organisms in mind. You can even volunteer as a “weed warrior” and help keep native plants safe by learning how to identify and exterminate the invasive species who threaten our indigenous ecosystem.

The Teaneck Creek Conservatory highly encourages education. It is the perfect place for students of all ages and boasts a unique outdoor classroom. The park even works with local universities in efforts to both inspire scientific interests of environmental studies as well as promote conservation.

While impressive as it is, you may be wondering, what makes this area different from any other park though? One of the unique features of this park is the art exhibits installed around the area. The park’s “EcoArt” features both permanent and temporary exhibits, all of which are environmentally friendly are have been inspired by nature conservation.

One such permanent installation is the Turtle Peace Labyrinth that been completed in 2004. This installation, designed by Ariana Burgess, utilized remnants of highway construction ruble as well as live plants to create a piece that paid homepage to the Lenape presence and the spirit of healing and renewal and represent a new place “where nature, history, and art come full circle.”

Photo Caption: Lovely landscapes and wonderful structures liter the park premises.

Another permanent piece you may come across is the Walking Tree Talking Trees installation by Richard Kirk Mills. This installation involved using zinc etching plates fastened (harmlessly) to trees to give them a voice. He argued that we often overlook trees even though they are vital to the environment and constantly contribute to our livelihood. By labeling them in a way to point out their value, this provoking piece forces visitors to think about the role of trees.

Photo Caption Informative yet fun signs can be found guiding you throughout the park.

During your visit, you will likely come across one of the ephemeral pieces as well. You may not even recognize them, but it’s all about perspective. It may seem like a collection of random natural materials, but Valentina DuBasky’s Heron Glyph is an ingenious and detailed masterpiece. While it may seem abstract at first if you view the piece at the proper angle via the sky or one of the elevated footpaths you’ll notice it is a very detailed and realistic depiction of a Heron. I believe this is a perfect example of how you sometimes if you change your perspective of something you will be able to appreciate its beauty. You’d better hurry and visit because, like many other installments, this one is only up for a limited time.


The Teaneck Creek Conservatory and a perfect nature retreat for people of all ages and I would recommend anyone to visit. Better yet, the park is a work in progress and always looking for volunteers. Make a difference today and help reclaim the earth, one step at a time.

Brittni Devlin

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