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Richard W. DeKorte Park

Site Description

  • State: New Jersey
  • County: Bergen
  • Ownership: State

Impoundments

  • Kingsland Impoundment: 79 acres

Ecology and Management

Egrets on the Kingsland Impoundment.

Richard W. DeKorte Park is located in the 19,485 acre urban wetland complex just outside of New York City known as the Hackensack Meadowlands. The region is classified an Important Bird Area (IBA) by New Jersey Audubon and is an area of conservation interest to the USFWS, mainly due to a high diversity of wetland birds and wildlife. The Kingsland Impoundment is a central feature of DeKorte Park and is one of the best places in the region to see concentrations of shorebirds, ducks, and long-legged wading birds. Staff biologists from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (formerly known as the Meadowlands Commission) monitor and carry out research on birds and other aspects of the environment at the site. The site has participated in the Integrated Waterbird Management and Monitoring (IWMM) program, and is frequented by birders who submit their observations on eBird.org. About 75 checklists have been submitted from the Marsh Discovery Trail which cuts diagonally across the impoundment, tallying 144 species. Over 4,400 checklists have been submitted from DeKorte Park more generally (many likely from the impoundment) recording a total of 265 species. High counts of 15,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 3,000 Least Sandpipers, and 600 Lesser Yellowlegs have been reported.

The impoundment was constructed incidentally and in stages as embankments were created for the Morris & Essex Railroad (1870s) and the TransCo gas pipeline (1948), with a county landfill forming the final boundary to the north. A sluice gate was installed by Bergen County in 1970 allowing some water control. Another water control structure was installed in 1992 by the owners of the Transco Pipeline at the request of the then NJ Meadowlands Commission (now the NJSEA). This allowed staff biologists to more easily manage water levels in the impoundment. Water levels were not regularly managed until 2007 when staff biologists began to actively manipulate levels to benefit a variety of waterbird species. Water levels are dropped during spring and fall to expose mudflats for migrating shorebirds. In fall and winter, water levels are kept high to provide habitat for waterfowl. The water source for the impoundment is the tidal (brackish) Hackensack River, via Kingsland Creek.

Vulnerability

The southern embankment (which contains the TransCo – Caldwell B 36 inch Lateral pipeline) was severely eroded during Hurricane Sandy, but was repaired and reinforced quickly by the pipeline owner. According to staff, the embankments been overtopped and have sustained some erosion before (notably a 1992 Nor’easter and 2011’s Hurricane Irene) but have never completely breached. The site is in a relatively sheltered location, approximately 0.5 miles inland from the Hackensack River. The top of the embankments are roughly 4-5 feet above the mean high water level.The southern embankment (which contains the TransCo – Caldwell B 36 inch Lateral pipeline) was severely eroded during Hurricane Sandy, but was repaired and reinforced quickly by the pipeline owner. According to staff, the embankments been overtopped and have sustained some erosion before (notably a 1992 Nor’easter and 2011’s Hurricane Irene) but have never completely breached. The site is in a relatively sheltered location, approximately 0.5 miles inland from the Hackensack River. The top of the embankments are roughly 4-5 feet above the mean high water level.

Human Value

An estimated 20,000 people visit DeKorte Park’s Kingsland Impoundment each year. In addition to being frequented by birders, the impoundment is also the site of regular nature programming, including weekly family nature walks and a daily grade-school educational program led by Ramapo College. The impoundment is a survey location in several New Jersey Audubon Citizen Science projects that involve birders in the monitoring of shorebird, heron, and marsh bird populations.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Brett Bragin and Michael Newhouse (NJSEA) for providing much of the information contained on this page.

Literature Resources

Below is a list of scholarly articles and reports describing environmental research occurring at or near the impoundment:
  • Anderson, T. K., and M. V. K. Sukhdeo. 2013. Qualitative community stability determines parasite establishment and richness in estuarine marshes. PeerJ 1:e92.
  • Kane, R., and D. Githens. Hackensack River migratory bird report: With recommendations for conservation. Bernardsville, New Jersey: New Jersey Audubon Society; 1997.
  • Kiviat, E., and K. MacDonald. Hackensack Meadowlands, New Jersey, biodiversity: A review and synthesis. Annandale, New York: Hudsonia, Ltd; 2002.
  • Kraus, M. L. 1989. Bioaccumulation of heavy metals in pre-fledgling tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 43:407-414.
  • Mizrahi, D., N. Tsipoura, K. Witkowski, and M. Bisignano. Avian Abundance and Distribution in the New Jersey Meadowlands District: The Importance of Habitat, Landscape, and Disturbance. Bernardsville, New Jersey: New Jersey Audubon Society; 2007.
  • Tsipoura, N., J. Burger, R. Feltes, J. Yacabucci, D. Mizrahi, C. Jeitner, and M. Gochfeld. 2008. Metal concentrations in three species of passerine birds breeding in the Hackensack Meadowlands of New Jersey. Environmental research 107:218-228.
  • USACE [United States Army Corps of Engineers]. Meadowlands Environmental Site Investigation Compilation (MESIC), Hudson-Raritan Estuary, Hackensack Meadowlands, New Jersey. New York, New York: United States Army Corps of Engineers, New York District; 2004.
  • USFWS [United States Fish and Wildlife Service]. The Hackensack Meadowlands Initiative, Preliminary Conservation Planning. Pleasantville, New Jersey: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, New Jersey Field Office; 2007.