Friday, February 20, 2015

Saving Green Space: The View from Lucy's Lookout

By Erik Lipkin

The term swamp doesn’t usually conjure images of beauty.  Instead, when most people hear the word swamp, they think about mucky water filled with alligators and snakes.  Clearly those people have never visited New Jersey’s Great Swamp.  While there aren’t any alligators in the Great Swamp, there are numerous species of waterfowl, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that all call it home.  There would be no swamp to call home for those creatures if it wasn’t for a grassroots campaign to save it.

Decades ago, the Great Swamp was going to be filled in and paved over to create an international airport, because apparently having the Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport already in the tri-state area wasn’t enough.  But thanks to many local activists the swamp was saved in a David vs. Goliath showdown between the activists and the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey. However, the Great Swamp wasn’t the only great fight put forth by local activists in New Jersey. 

Another victory for New Jersey’s local environmental activists was the preservation of Pyramid Mountain in Morris County.  While there are houses that challenge the boundaries of the Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area, they do not breach its borders.  What makes Pyramid Mountain so special are its vast hiking trails that anyone can enjoy, from beginner to experienced hiker.  Whether hikers wants to stroll along the forest on flat trails to Bear Rock, which is an ancient glacial erratic, or head up the steep mountain to check out Tripod Rock, there is something for everyone to enjoy. 

Perhaps the most special section of Pyramid Mountain is one that many hikers walk right by without even noticing, Lucy’s Lookout.  The lookout is named after Lucy Meyer, who was an integral part of helping to preserve Pyramid Mountain.  Meyer helped build local support to save the mountain and the lookout was named fittingly in her honor.  What makes the lookout special isn’t just that it was named after Meyer, whose efforts to help save the mountain were extraordinary, but that when you get to the lookout all of modern civilization seems to fade away.

Off of the main trail, there’s a side trail to Lucy’s Lookout, and after some scrambling near the edge of a cliff hikers can enjoy fabulous views.  While there are a few cell phone towers as eyesores in the distance, most of the view is nothing but beautiful old growth trees.  It isn’t often in New Jersey that one can sit atop a rock and look out over a sea of green, lush trees, but that is exactly what Lucy’s Lookout offers.  There is something about being at Lucy’s Lookout that can make someone believe in G-d or at the very least some sort of higher power.  There is a cleansing of the soul that can happen there, if you take the time to let it. 

Sitting at the lookout, sun shining on your face, taking in a gorgeous field of green, it is hard not to be thankful for Lucy Meyer and the many others who helped preserve Pyramid Mountain.

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