The slow quiet twists and turns, the forgotten oxbows and backwaters are a signature of this central portion of the Passaic River. Great Piece Meadows, a local namesake for this expanse of open meadow wetland, is one of many such wetland relics formed on the geologic bottom of the ancient Glacial Lake Passaic. This ever changing system of wetlands, which includes other important Passaic River basin wetlands, such as Great Swamp, Black Meadows and Troy Meadows, is noted for rookeries of great blue heron and habitat for salamanders, turtles and mink and muskrat. Great Piece Meadows is a Natural Heritage Priority Site. Untouched regions of the area still support rare plants including tufted loosestrife and Louisiana sedge. Alterations to hydrology, intended to relieve local flooding, appears to have transitioned much of the wet meadow habitat into a red maple and sweetgum forest today. Still, this ecosystem is resilient, providing refuge for wildlife, flood storage for the river communities and an outdoor adventure for boaters and birdwatchers to experience.
Acting early, Wildlife Preserves Inc., a statewide conservation organization, and the New Jersey Green Acres Program, began to acquire parcels here in the 1960’s. Now, after nearly 50 years of work and protection, all but a small fraction is owned by state or municipal governments to provide flood storage, wildlife habitat and recreation. Wildlife Preserves Inc. continues its commitment in the meadows and provides management assistance under the terms of a management agreement with the Trust.
The public is welcome to hike and fish on the preserve. Due to binding management agreements, general public hunting is not permitted.