Liberty State Park Nature Interpretive Center
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Waypoint 1 of 10 on Going Coastal’s NY-NJ Harbor Estuary EarthCache Discovery Trail in Liberty State Park, caches developed by Going Coastal, Inc. (www.goingcoastal.org) as a special project in affiliation with Groundspeak and support from the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.
The NY-NJ Harbor Estuary Earthcache Discovery Trail is meant to help visitors develop a better understanding of the Estuary, make connections between earth and environmental science, and foster stewardship.
Parking lot is at 40.699145, 074.054077 on the left, just across from the Center. (visit link)
The area that encompasses Liberty State Park has an interesting geological history and a number of significant natural resources. The New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Discovery Trail begins at the Nature Interpretive Center. If the Center is closed, begin your exploration of the trail at the interpretive kiosk located at coordinates 440.699146,-74.0541 adjacent the entrance of the Interpretive Center.
The ancient geological processes that shaped the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary can all be explored from the reclaimed shores of Liberty State Park. The setting has undergone tremendous changes in topography and function over the past 200 years. Formerly, a quiet marsh and cove, it was transformed into the greatest concentration of rail facilities in the Northeast, and then was abandoned in 1969. Liberty State Park opened in 1976. The former brownfield (deserted industrial wasteland) has been revitalized into wildlife habitat and open space. The process of reclaiming and revitalizing the landscape is still evolving.
The Nature Interpretive Center focuses on the ecology and natural history of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. The hands-on exhibits and displays provide an introduction to the areas natural resources. Set upon a 36-acre natural area, visitors can explore rehabilitated freshwater wetlands, wet meadows, beach, salt marsh, tidal mudflats and upland forest ecosystems. Famed architect Michael Graves designed the Nature Interpretive Center and planned the system of small pavilions, pathways and even designed the birdhouses placed around the reclaimed wetlands.
Located on the western banks of Upper New York Bay, at the mouth of the Hudson River, Liberty State Park is one of the nation’s largest urban ecological restoration success stories. Little remains of the original shores, shallow flats and tidal wetlands, which used to characterize the environment of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. What has survived in and around the park is immensely rare and valuable in an urban area.
Liberty State Park comprises 1,212 acres of land and water. Visitors have free access to the waterfront of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary and unparalleled views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and New York Harbor. The Richard J. Sullivan Natural Area provides several ecologically important habits along the shores of the Harbor Estuary. The combination of open water, mudflat and salt marsh provides protected estuarine habitat that serves as food and shelter to a wide variety of flora and fauna. A self-guided nature path offers opportunities to observe and experience this unique wildlife habitat. You are invited to observe plants and animals along the nature path. Restoration plans are underway to provide greater access to the parks 250-acre interior area. The project includes the creation of freshwater wetlands, salt marsh and 100 acres of emerging forest. State Park policy prohibits the collection, removal or harming plants or animals from the area.
The Nature Interpretive Center (visit link) offers programs for school and community groups and the general public. Open year round, Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day (closed most holidays). For more information, call (201) 915-3409. Liberty State Park is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
1. How has the hydrology of the Harbor Estuary influenced how people used this land?
2. Take a look across the horizon, you will see a panoramic view of the harbor. Describe one natural feature and one man-made feature of the view.
3. (Optional) Visit the interpretive display in the outdoor gazebo adjacent to the Center entrance. What is the value of a salt marsh?
4. (Optional) Take a picture of your team with your backs to the Pond.
To log a find on this earthcache, email the cache owner (DO NOT POST IN YOUR LOG). Use your GPS device to locate the next cache - GC2T1ER. (visit link)
Remember, to upload a photo and let us know in your log ways we can improve the trail.
To reserve a field trip for your class, please contact the educators at the Nature Interpretive Center at (201) 915-3409. Geomate Jr. GPS units will be provided for your group for your high-tech exploration of the geology and ecology of Liberty State Park. Additional resources are available online at www.goingcoastal.org (visit link)
Friends of Liberty State Park – (visit link)
Going Coastal – (visit link)
Harbor Estuary Program - (visit link)
Name and Type of Land
Liberty State Park
200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Phone: (201) 915-3440 (visit link)
OWNER: NJ Department of Environmental Protection
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum