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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Great Swamp OEC Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Sanctuary, which was saved from becoming an airport by a grassroots coalition of concerned citizens, offers a unique gateway between true wilderness and civilization, right in our own backyard. The sanctuary’s Outdoor Education Center, located at 247 Southern Blvd, Chatham Township, commemorates its 50th anniversary on Saturday, April 27, from 11am to 4pm, by inviting the public to enjoy the Great Swamp and all it offers through a myriad of activities. There will be live animal shows, music, guided tours, nature games, displays, and hands-on educational activities to entertain all ages.

In 1959, forces were conspiring to pave over large swaths of the Great Swamp to create an international airport.  Area residents formed the Great Swamp Committee to save this unique ecosystem — which is a mixture of marsh, meadow, woodland, and swamp that sustains a wide variety of plant and animal life. As part of this effort, the Morris County Park Commission purchased approximately 45 acres on the eastern end of the swamp in 1963, and allowed NJ Audubon staff to give tours, raising awareness to protect the area. Today, the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center hosts thousands of people annually to teach them what could have been lost and what remains to be accomplished. The Outdoor Education Center hosts school and scout tours, and offers programs such as Lenape Day, Maple Sugar Festival, Baby & Me Hikes, summer camp programs, and much more.

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