In 2022, Hackensack Riverkeeper not only celebrated 25 years of striving to protect, preserve and restore the Hackensack River and its wetlands through advocacy, education and conservation, the organization also celebrated achieving an ambitious goal it set forth 25 years ago – 25 nesting pairs of osprey at the 25th year. And, PSE&G is proud to have played a role.
In 1997, PSE&G Senior Environmental Specialist Mike Cullen organized volunteers who mentored students from the Hudson Liberty Council’s Boy Scouts of America and Urban League of Hudson County Youth Build program. Their mission: to construct 12 osprey platforms to be raised along the banks of the Hackensack River.
Hackensack Riverkeeper Founder and Captain Bill Sheehan said, “When the PSE&G volunteers got involved, there hadn’t been a nesting pair in the Meadowlands for over 100 years because the habitat had been degraded so dramatically – unable to sustain fish populations necessary to be a food source for animals and birds. At that time, the Hackensack River was designated one of the 10 most endangered rivers in America.”
For several years, the osprey platforms were intermittently used as hunting platforms or rest stops by migrating ospreys flying through the area. As the river became healthier thanks to the enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the advocacy and daily inspections of Hackensack Riverkeeper, some ospreys began to build nests on a couple of the platforms. And, as if Mother Nature was expressing gratitude for the PSE&G volunteers for building those platforms, osprey chose to successfully nest for the first time at PSE&G’s now-retired Hudson Generating Station. It is estimated that the first flight of this new generation was on July 13, 2007.
“We expect the population to continue to grow as the health of the river continues to improve and the birds return to the same nests year after year,” said Hugh Carola, Hackensack Riverkeeper captain and program director.
Since the initial construction of osprey platforms, PSEG’s Functional Environmental Achievement Team, led by Senior Project Manager Gas Operations Bill Elmer and Project Manager of Environmental Anne Davis, have constructed several dozen additional osprey platforms that have helped to remove the osprey from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s list of endangered species.