• Naturalist Notes: October, 2019

    >> Naturalist Notes & Musings:

    There are so many wonderful things about fall that it is hard to pick a favorite, but high up on the list of reasons to love autumn are mushrooms.

     Mushrooms come in an amazing variety of colors and shapes, make a great addition to dinners, and their importance in the forest is second only to the trees themselves.

    A little background is important here, as they or often misunderstood and even vilified due to some species being highly toxic.

    Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungus, just like an apple is the fruit of an apple tree. For a fungus to reproduce it needs to make spores, just like an apple tree needs to make seeds. The mushroom is not the organism, but just a reproductive structure that produces spores and ensures the future of the species.

    The fungus is the organism, and they are quite inconspicuous, living in the soil or in live or dead trees as a network of fine white strands. It's the mushrooms that stand out and get noticed -  often littering the forest floor with their varying shapes and colors. Most forest fungi are decomposers and help the nutrient cycles of the forest by using dead leaves and trees as food. Some fungi are parasites and attack living trees, but there are many that live in harmonious association with certain trees and get their food from their host - and in turn, provide the host tree with help getting water and nutrients. The bulk of the mushrooms found in the forest are inedible, but there are a handful that are delicious. October is the time of year when many tasty forest treats can be found, and I look forward to another great year of mushroom hunting! If this topic interests you, come join us at the cabin on October 17th at 7:00pm for a fun and informative lecture and slide show about mushrooms.

    See you on the trails!

    Marc Gussen, Naturalist


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  • Newsletter — October, 2019



    1. The Amazing World of Mushrooms

    October 17th 7:00 pm

    You will not want to miss this captivating and fascinating program: Naturalist Marc Gussenhas offered it often over the years, and always has had a great response. Come learn about mushrooms, their role in the forest...and in the kitchen!

    Admission is Free... Donations gratefully accepted.

    2. Hello Autumn Hike

    Sunday, October 27, at 3 PM

    Come visit the Nature Center and join us for a hike along our trails. Enjoy our woods as colors peak in mid - Autumn!  Meet at the cabin by Ruckman Pond...

    October After-School Programs

    Bones, Bats and Black Cats

    Nature with a taste of Halloween!

    This month we will learn about skeletons, nocturnal animals

    and mythical creatures.

    Please dress for the weather.

     Pk- and K - Tuesdays 15th, 22nd and 29th

    1st and 2nd  - Wednesdays 16th, 23rd and 30th

    3rd thru 6th  - Thursdays 17th 24th and 31st

    Cost: $40 members, $50 non-members
    Time: 3:45 - 5:00

    To register online please go to:

    https://register.communitypass.net/Closterand you will be taken to Community Pass, our online registration and payment system.

    If you would prefer to register in person, please call Marc Gussen at  (201) 750-2778.



    Light Exercise for You, Big Help to Your Nature Center

    Needed: Deer Fence maintenance volunteers for 2 types of work throughout the year:

    A top priority for the Closter Nature Center is to ensure that our magnificent 130 acre forest remains healthy. A significant step in this process was to engage NJ Audubon to conduct a forest survey and develop a Forest Stewardship Plan. One of the threats Audubon identified was the loss of native species due to the deer eating them. To protect new tree seedlings (the future of the forest!), this summer (with support from the Borough of Closter) we installed over 1 mile of deer exclosure fencing. This fencing will remain in place until the seedlings grow large enough to survive the deer (approximately 10 years).

    Our challenge now is to monitor the fence to make sure there are no breaks where deer can come in. We are building a team of volunteers to support this effort - please consider joining us. Any time you could give would be very welcome!

    We need maintenance volunteers for 2 types of work throughout the year:

    1. Fence checkersThis role just requires the ability to walk in the woods and to be a good observer. Further details to be provided at the meeting, although may vary depending on the number of volunteers we get.
    2. Fence repairersThis role is a bit more physically demanding in terms of carrying tools and materials, possible use of a saw, and understanding of the cable system (pretty basic) or willingness to learn.   Ideally, we need 3 or 4 people available on call so that someone among them would be free to respond within a day or two to a checker's report of damage.

    Learn more and choose how you can help, often or occasionally ... do some good and get some exercise!  Maybe bring a friend who might like to work with you once a month or so.

    If you would like to be involved in this project please click here https://closternaturecenter.org/volunteer-positions-available/ and fill out our volunteer form at the bottom. Please mention this article.

    Thank you for your support!


    CNC Month By Month:

    October 17th @ 7pm Mushrooms - Marc

    October 27th @ 3pm Fall Hike

    November 17th @ 2pm Bats

    December 22nd @ 3pm Welcome Winter Hike

    December Bird Watch

    January Photo competition

    January 16th @ 7pm Primitive Tech

    February 9th @ 3pm Winter Hike

    March 15th @ 3pm Meet the animals of the nature center

    April 15th @ 7pm Invasive/native plants

    April 19th Soup Supper

    May Forest Stewardship/deer exclosure community update

    May Bird Count

    June Summer Hike

    June 7th Pond Celebration



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  • Naturalist Notes: October, 2018

    >> Naturalist Notes & Musings:

    Every season has its own special basket of gifts from nature, but in my mind fall takes the cake. With the coming of cool nights and ample rain, the fungi of the forest start to fruit and make their reproductive structures: Mushrooms! October is typically the highlight of the mushroom hunter’s year, as conditions can be perfect for this vital stage in the life cycle of fungi. Apple trees make apples loaded with seeds so that they can insure the future of their species, and the rest of the plant world works pretty much the same way. Fungi are similar - just with different structures and a few special twists. When it is time for fungi to reproduce there are a couple different strategies, but the one that concerns me the most is one that produces mushrooms. Forest fungi can live in many different ways - some are parasites of trees, some are decomposers, and some have a relationship with plants that benefits both parties; but no matter how they make their living, they all need to reproduce. When it is time for fungi to complete their life cycle the "fruit" is the mushroom, and the "seeds" are spores. The variety of shapes, sizes and colors that mushrooms can come in is astounding. Some are conspicuous and common, but many are tiny and difficult to identify.  Mushroom hunting is a great way to spend a couple of hours wandering through the woods - and if you put in your time, and learn to identify some of our common delicious edible mushrooms, you will be in for one of natures tastiest gifts.

    See you on the trails...Marc Gussen, Naturalist

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  • Newsletter — October, 2018

    >>October Events and Activities –>

    October After-School Classes: 

    Bones, Bats and Black Cats

    Nature with a taste of Halloween!

    This month we will learn about skeletons, nocturnal animals and mythical creatures. Please dress for the weather.

    Pre-K and K - Tuesdays - 9th - 16th – 23rd

    1st and 2nd Gr. - Wednesdays - 10th - 17th - 24th

    3rd through 6th Gr. - Thursdays - 11th - 18th - 25th

    Cost: $40 members, $50 non-members
    Time: 3:45 - 5:00pm

    To register online please go to:

    https://register.communitypass.net/Closter and you will be taken to Community Pass, our online registration and payment system.

    If you would prefer to register in person, please call Marc Gussen at  (201) 750-2778. 


    Go Batty with NJ's own "Bat man" Joseph D'Angeli

    One of Our Most Popular Programs!

    Sunday, October 7th at 2 PM

    At the cabin by the Pond

    Throughout the world, bats have been misunderstood and persecuted, causing a serious decline in bat population. The program "BATS, BATS, BATS!" was established to bring this matter to the public's attention with a LECTURE, SLIDE PRESENTATION & LIVE BATS! Find out why bats are now being protected because of their vital role in virtually every environment on earth: for example, their importance in insect maintenance and rainforest regeneration. Join Mr. D'Angeli in dispelling the many myths of these most important nocturnal creatures.

    Cost: Suggested Donation of $5 for non members and $3 for members

    Light refreshments will be served


    Fundraiser Planned:


    Sunday, October 21st from 4 – 8 PM

    Closter Plaza's Chipotle Mexican Grill is partnering with the Closter Nature Center for a fundraiser on Sunday, October 21, from 4 - 8 P.M.  Event flyers will be circulated soon.  We urge everyone to plan their family's late lunch or Sunday dinner at Chipotle and save the home cooking for another day! In order to benefit from the 30% donation by Chipotle, each customer must show a flyer OR simply mention to the cashier that you've come to support the Nature Center.  Why not plan a fall festival or pre-Halloween party around this date and leave the cooking to Chipotle!  Please mark your calendars and spread the word to friends and neighbors.

    Forest Stewardship Update

    Feeling Strong?  Got Some Extra Energy?

    Our Forest Stewardship Program could use lots of energetic volunteers to carry in the fencing materials as we prepare to have the 3 areas of deer exclusion fencing installed.  The dates are not yet firm, but likely to be the end of October or early in November.  Materials vary from heavy, to medium, to light but awkward.  Carry distance: 200-300 yards.  As always, many hands make for lighter work! If interested, (of course, subject to your availability when the dates are fixed), please e-mail Mary Mayer at marym812@aol.com.  Ask a friend if they'd like to join you!  We expect the work would be a full day, but people could sign up for a morning or afternoon shift, once the date/s are clear.

    And Thank You!

    CNC Calendar:

    Thursday September 27, at 7 PM - Marc’s Mushroom Presentation

    Sunday, October 7th, at 2 PM – BATS, BATS, BATS!

    Sunday, October 21st,  4-8 PM – Chipotle Fundraiser (details above)

    Sunday, November 5th, at 3 PM – Winter Hike

    Holiday Break Classes: Wednesday, 12/26 -  Friday,  12/28



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  • Naturalist Notes: October, 2017

    October is a magical time of the year. Transition from summer to fall brings the fireworks display of foliage as the trees lose their leaves, the migration of birds and Monarch butterflies, and my favorite: the proliferation of mushrooms. A handful of species are prized as food, but other than those, most are ignored and are often maligned.

     Mushrooms are actually just the "fruit" of a fungus. As an apple tree makes apples - fungi make mushrooms. Their importance in the forest is eclipsed only by trees themselves; forests simply could not survive without fungi. They exist in the forest soil, and on living and dead trees. They act as decomposers, parasites, and sometimes as mutualistic “symbionts” (which help living plants to get water and nutrients from the soil). When the fungi are ready to reproduce, they make their reproductive structures: mushrooms. The mushrooms make spores, which are the fungi's version of seeds. Mushrooms come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and October is probably the best time to experience and enjoy this enchanting slice of forest life.

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