The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) is offering visitors a faster way to experience the Meadowlands this summer – by pontoon boat.
Pontoons are flattish boats with flotation devices, with buoyancy sufficient to float themselves as well as heavy loads. The commission boat cruises are leisurely excursions, allowing participants to easily take in all they see.
“Pontoon boat rides are part of a long-term effort to get the public to see the Hackensack River and its wildlife up close and take an interest in the estuary’s future,” said Brian Aberback, NJMC public information officer.
Special bird-watching tour
The next pontoon boat cruise for the general public will be on Tuesday, July 16, at 10 a.m., and will be one of the NJMC’s “Third-Tuesday Events.” This trip will be a birding-watching cruise, and will be held in cooperation with the Bergen County Audubon Society.
The two-hour jaunt will travel along the Hackensack River and its surrounding marshes looking for peregrine falcons, ospreys, northern harriers, various egrets and herons, and diamondback terrapins. Nature photographers are welcome, but must be unobtrusive (no tripods). Check meadowblog.net for last-minute updates and weather advisories. The tour departs from the River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt and has a suggested donation of $15 per person.
“The cruises are a great way to experience the amazing natural beauty and wildlife of the Meadowlands District.” – Marcia Karrow, NJMC executive director
Seniors can ride fast too
Pontoon boat cruises will also provide a special thrill for seniors in the area, as the rides will be featured in the NJMC 2013 Summer Senior Program.
“The NJMC Summer Senior Program is a great service to residents of the Meadowlands District and beyond, and we invite all seniors to participate in our free and low-cost programs,” said Marcia Karrow, commission executive director.
The special pontoon boat cruises for seniors are scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. (rain date, July 16).
“The cruises are a great way to experience the amazing natural beauty and wildlife of the Meadowlands District from a unique, close-up vantage point,” Karrow said. Meadowlands Environment Center guides will discuss the natural and cultural history of the region and point out fauna and flora. Attendees are encouraged to bring their cameras to take advantage of the excellent photo opportunities. On land, Dr. Angela Cristini, MEC director, will discuss the ecology of the Hackensack River.
The senior pontoon boat cruises also leave from River Barge Park in Carlstadt. The cost for seniors is $7 per person, and reservations and advance payment are required. The boats cannot accommodate wheelchairs.
Other senior programs
For more information, to request a copy of the 2013 Summer Senior Program, or to register for a program, call (201) 777-2431, or stop by the Meadowlands Environment Center, located at 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst.
For more information on pontoon boat cruises, call 201-460-4640 or visit http://www.njmeadowlands.gov/environment/tours.html. The pontoon cruises are very popular, so advanced registration is recommended. Group tours are offered per availability.
In case of severe weather, please call the MEC at 201-460-8300 to confirm events and facility operation.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.