• River Birch Planting Project

    Tale of the Trees

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  • Boy Scout Upgrades Fire Pit

    Boy Scout Tales

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  • Fishing Pads

    Three New Fishing Points For Pond Fishermen

    (The following was written by Tom Golodik, Closter Nature Center Trail Chairperson during construction of our new fishing pads)

    Walkers around Ruckman Pond at the Closter Nature Center may be wondering why nine new large stones have been placed just off the shoreline on the side of the pond across of the Center’s cabin.  The stones are a part of a realignment of the Mayer Loop and will offer several wide open places for local fishermen.

    The loop trail had run along the edge of pond there, but following the dredging of the pond bottom a number of years ago, some of the vegetation lining the shoreline along that area was lost.  This resulted in the path, which had been fairly level and easily walked, eroding to the point that it was dangerous to walk there when the ground was wet or muddy. 

    The Center’s board of trustees decided that the best way to address the slippery conditions was to close sections of the trail along the pond and move it ten feet inland.  While construction of the new trail has begun, closing the path along the waterline and the slippery and muddy conditions typical of that stretch of the trail has presented access problems for fishermen.

    Thus the placement of the new granite stones which will form the foundation of three separate fishing pads that will give water access to  the new trail where it passes through the forest.  Work on the delivery of the stones and their placement was possible thanks to Todd Bradbury, of Bradbury Landscaping of Closter.  Todd graciously provided the Center with much time and expertise—sourcing the stones, arranging for their purchase from the supplier, trucking them to the site, and providing and operating  the excavator that moved them into position—all of this done within one week of beginning the project with ice on the pond and snow on the ground.

    Todd Bradbury places the first stone for the new fishing pads that are part of the improvements to the pond trail.

    Todd Bradbury from Bradbury Landscapes sorts some of the large stones purchased for the pond improvement work prior to placement.

    We asked Todd to locate the stones for the pads further out in the water than the original shoreline.  This will mean that fisherman will now have much less vegetation to contend with when casting and make it less likely that fishing lines will get tangled in surrounding trees and brush, particularly dangerous to our avian visitors requiring naturalist Marc Gussen to remove the tangled lines regularly.

    The next phase of work for the pads is the placement of stones donated several months ago by Gary Wiggers Construction.  These will be installed between the high point of the shoreline and the granite boulders to provide access to the pads without the need for fishermen to get  their feet wet.  This phase will require volunteers sorting stones, moving them to the shoreline and building up the necessary stone surround that will retain the crushed stone that will finish it off.


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    The Closter Nature Center has begun a multi-year Trail Restoration & Renovation Project.



    Planks Staged for Distribution


    Delivery Truck

    Nature Center Class

    Black Locust Logs


    The existing boardwalk trail system, made of black locust boards, has been in place for up to 16 years. Although this wood is extremely durable, and almost 90% of the planks have continued to resist the wetland swamp waters, approximately 10% of these boards have developed splits or holes and require replacement. The plan was to replace all of the damaged boards with new planks cut from Black Locust logs.



    Originally we had hoped to do the work locally with the help of wood donations by  Ken's Tree Care and a local mill.

    However, In 2021, the Closter Nature Center made the decision to purchase roughly  80 black locust planks for the project from Lifetime Locust, a mill in Broadalbin, New York. Delivered on December 29th, planks were installed on the Red, Green and Blue Trails in mid-January 2022 thanks to crews provided by Todd Bradbury, owner of Bradbury Landscape in Closter, and William Dahle, superintendent of the borough’s Department of Public Works.  Plank replacement along the Orange Trail as it passes through the wetlands area is also being planned.  The overall cost of this partial restoration project has been just under $10,000, paid for by generous donations of our patrons, members and the Closter Nature Center.

    Repaired sections of the Red Trail

    CNC Trustee Tom Golodik

    Truck Loaded with Black Locust Planks

    Crews Ready to Position Planks

    Trail Planks In Spring

    We welcome volunteers interested in ongoing trail maintenance. Please contact Tom Golodik, Mary Mayer or Beth Ravit if you would like to be contacted for future projects. 

    To read more about trail maintenance or other volunteer opportunities with the Closter Nature Center, check out our listings  at "Volunteer Positions Available" and join us today!




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  • Deer Exclosures

    Deer Exclusion Fencing Complete!

    With the Borough's support, and tremendous dedication from almost three dozen hard workers, installation of fencing for three deer exclusion sites is complete! 



    Cabling, 2019


    Seven CNC trail maintenance volunteers, Dr. Jay Kelly and 6 students from Raritan Valley Community College, plus 20 young people from the Closter Nature Center Summer Program, installed 6,600 feet of fencing (a total of 1 1/8 miles!), enclosing 30 acres of our 136 acre nature center.  This will keep the deer out of certain areas so the forest understory and young trees can recover from many years of deer browse, and survive to shape our future forest.




    With Naturalist Director Marc Gussen, board members Joel Rudin and Beth Ravit attended the Mayor & Council meeting on Wednesday, August 14thto thank the Borough for their financial support for this project, and to let them know the fence is installed.



    Mary Flagging, 2019

    Steve, Volunteer 2019

    Lee, Cabling 2019

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  • Trail Naming

    Ageless and Tireless Volunteers

    The Closter Nature Center's hardworking angels, Mary & Gay Mayer, seen here by the pond at the newly installed sign in their honor.

    CNC Director and Naturalist Marc Gussen built and installed the new sign. 

    Photos courtesy of Trustee Susan McTigue. 



    Mary and Gay Mayer

    Marc Gussen

    Marc Gussen and Co.

    Mary Mayer

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  • Forest Stewardship Project

    Operation Multiflora Rose January, 2021

    The Closter Nature Center is a magical place loaded with native plants and animals. Unfortunately, we have a problem in our preserve--an invasive species called "Multiflora Rose", a plant that threatens the health of our forest. Over two Saturdays, a group of volunteers attempted to remove as much of the troublesome plant as possible. The rush to remove the plant is due to expectations that the Nature Center will lose ALL of its ash trees to another invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer opening up the forest canopy and letting the opportunistic Multiflora Rose the sunlight it needs to proliferate.

    One group of volunteers worked to clear masses of multi-flora rose and other invasive brambles along the Ruckman Avenue verge opposite the Nature Center pond.

    Clearing Ruckman Verge:

    One group of volunteers worked to clear masses of multi-flora rose and other invasive brambles along the Ruckman Avenue verge opposite the Nature Center pond.

    Forest Stewardship Study

    Starting in 2015, the Closter Nature Center (CNC) Board undertook a long-term project to assess and protect the health of its 136-acre site of forested wetlands. Soon after, a forest stewardship study was conducted by New Jersey Audubon for the CNC which has served as a baseline for further study and recommendations of care. Please check here for continuing updates and information. (Note: Most recent information appears first.)

    CNC Spring Woods, 2018

    Woodland Stewards Worry About Deer Impact

    Following is a link to an article in the Northern Valley Press published August, 2019. 

    NORTHERN VALLEY AREA, N.J.—While a regional approach to deer population control remains a major theme among Pascack and Northern valley municipalities—save for Saddle River and River Vale now planning fall 2019 bowhunts—managers of several area nature sanctuaries warn that an overpopulation of deer is causing long-term impacts to forests and biodiversity—and they are taking action. 

    Woodland Stewards Worry About Deer Impact 

    Greenbrook Sanctuary (Autumn 2018)

    "It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words."

    Following is a link to Palisades Nature Notes, the Autumn, 2018 Newsletter of the Greenbrook Sanctuary, Palisades Nature Association. 

    Of note: two photos at the top of the page that starkly illustrate the difference between woods are protected from white-tailed deer with an exclosure or, fence and woods that are not protected. 

    Greenbrook Sancturary Newsletter

    EAB Monitoring Stations

    Look UP! You may notice these green, cylindrical cones hanging from a tree in the Nature Center. These are monitoring traps for the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that is impacting Ash trees in our region. Tracking the path and impact of these beetles is important to understanding the changing nature of our forests. Monitoring invasive species is part of our ongoing Forest Stewardship Project at the Closter Nature Center. These stations were put in place by local volunteer, Todd Bradbury.

    EAB Monitoring Station

    Assessing Forest Health in Central New Jersey

    White-tailed Deer

    The Closter Nature Center held its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 at 7pm. in the log cabin by the pond. There was a brief business meeting highlighting our past year followed by a presentation on "The Impacts of Deer and Invasive Species on Forests in Northern-Central New Jersey.

    Dr. Jay Kelly from Raritan Valley Community College presented the results of his research on the impacts of overabundant deer and invasive plant species on forests in northern-central NJ. Since 2014, he and his students have studied over 135 forests, primarily in the Raritan Watershed, documenting how tree regeneration and other aspects of forest understories have changed since the mid-Twentieth Century, when deer and invasive plants were much lower in the state. They also studied the effectiveness of different strategies for forest restoration, including exclosures and deer management programs, at improving forest conditions over time. The goals of this research are to provide real-world research opportunities for students, and to provide local communities with information needed to understand these important issues; showing what is happening to our forests, and what can be done to address them.

    Link to Study

    Here is a link to Professor Kelly's presentation: 

    Impacts of Deer and Invasives in Central New Jersey Forests_May 2018

    Area of Expertise:  Ecology & Conservation

    Jay Kelly, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, Raritan Valley Community College

    Forest Stewardship Study

    This project has been ongoing since 2015.

    Following is a link to an article which appeared in a local newspaper in 2016:


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  • Eagle Scout Project

    Patrick Lee’s Eagle Scout Project

    Over the years, the Closter Nature Center has been the recipient of projects completed by Boy Scouts attempting to become "Eagle Scouts". This recognition is not come by easily, it is something the Scouts earn by building skills and learning how to become leaders. By building a bridge at the Nature Center, Patrick Lee earned the right to be called an "Eagle Scout", the highest rank in scouting. 

    Here is a copy of Patrick Lee's presentation to the Board of Trustees.

    Good evening board members, leaders, scouts, and parents.

    My name is Patrick Lee and I would like to thank the Nature Center for allowing me to complete my final steps toward Eagle Scout here at the nature center. The Nature Center holds a special place in my childhood. When I was a little boy I would spend a lot of time here fishing and attending camps, I especially enjoyed the fishing derbies. For my project, we replaced the main bridge. The previous bridge has been there for as long as I could remember, and it needed to be replaced. The new bridge now has steps for easier access, a handrail & is much sturdier.

     I would especially like to thank Mr. Gussen, working with him was a great experience. A special thank you to Mr. Mattes, who has been my leader since the first day of cub scouts in first grade, all the way up to Eagle Scout in my senior year of high school.  Also thank you to Dr. Baron, who worked with me every step of the way throughout my project. Thank you to the scouts, parents, and leaders who helped on my work days, and generously donated time, energy, efforts, and funds to my project, without them this wouldn’t happen. And a huge thank you to my Father and Grandfather for helping and teaching me the carpentry side of this project. Additionally a thank you for the Sapper family for creating this giant check, of which is the remaining funds of my fundraising efforts for the bridge. I am proudly able to donate $730.15 to the Closter Nature Center, so that it can continue to be a special place for other Closter children as they grow up.

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  • Technology Upgrade

    Help us, help you!

    The Closter Nature Center is working to upgrade its technology infrastructure to more easily meet the needs of our community. We are migrating class registrations and some back office functions to CommunityPass, a cloud-based registration and payment software based in Ridgewood, New Jersey. In order to fully migrate our membership database over to CommunityPass, there is a setup fee of $1000.00. We welcome any donations towards that goal.

    Thank you!

    Lori Spechler

    Closter Nature Center President

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  • Plants of the CNC

    Zach Weiss’ Senior Service project at Northern Valley…

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  • Animals of CNC

    Zach Weiss’ Senior Service project at Northern Valley Demarest, Class of 2017 included documentation of the animals of the nature center.

    My project was to create…

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  • New Bridge, November 2016

    An aging bridge spanning a stream at the Closter Nature Center has been replaced with a new and sturdier one thanks to a grant from Whole Foods…

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