In 1876, a pond (later known as Macfadden's Pond) created by damming Flat Rock Brook, first appears on a map.
William O. Allison, part of his 1924 bequest of a large tract of land is Flat Rock Brook's present day 75-acre "Allison Woods Park".
Englewood Nature Association renamed Flat Rock Brook Nature Association in 1974.
Flat Rock Brook Nature Center interpretive building opens in 1980.
Addition of playground on Jones Road completed in 2001
Our first 46 solar panels are installed in 2009.
"A Walk in the Woods” interpretive exhibit opens to the public in 2012.
In 2013, our Raptor Aviary is added for rehabilitated birds that are used in educational programming.
In 1973, volunteers and community activists worked to preserve the land that is Flat Rock Brook Nature Center. These visionaries had the foresight to preserve the land in a densely populated suburb that was experiencing rapid development. However, the land that is today a nature preserve and education center has a long history of varied land use and conservation successes. Our timeline provides a historical snapshot of our preserve – one of the last remnants of the Palisades Forest – and of the Flat Rock Brook Watershed.
A Timeline History of Flat Rock Brook
1850 Most of the land in what later became the city of Englewood still held in large farms, long, narrow tracts extending from the Overpeck Creek to the Hudson River (so as to include hay meadow, farmland, and woodland), belonging for generations to old settler families (Van Nostrands, Van Brunts, Westervelts, Lydeckers, and Vanderbecks).
1859 The Northern Railroad reaches Englewood. Large-scale logging on the western slope of the Palisades to provide railroad ties.
1876 A pond (later known as Macfadden's Pond), is created by damming the Flat Rock Brook, first appears on a map. On an 1880 map it is marked as "Vanderbeck's Millpond," evidently the site of a sawmill.
1891 Palisade Railroad proposes construction of north-south light rail line through Flat Rock Brook land to Palisade Avenue and beyond, and begins buying land.
1893 William O. Allison buys large tract of land (including what is now the Allison Woods Park section of Flat Rock Brook Nature Center) from Garrett Lydecker.
1900 The Englewood Crushed Stone Co. (later the Prentice Co.), headquartered in Englewood, leases land and operates the quarry off Jones Road for production of crushed stone. Quarrying operations continue until about 1925.
Flat Rock Brook works closely with our corporate and foundation partners to match opportunities for support with their philanthropic goals. We recognize that the private sector has an important role to play in supporting our work and ensuring that we have the necessary funding to maintain our preserve for the recreational enjoyment of our community and to provide quality environmental education programming to local schools, children, adults and families.
Whether sponsoring an event, underwriting a capital project, or bringing your staff to help at our park, our partnerships offer opportunities for community awareness, media recognition, employee volunteerism and meeting your corporate objectives in supporting preservation and education. The generosity of corporations and foundations helps ensure that Flat Rock Brook remains a vital regional resource for real experiences in nature and environmental education for this and future generations.
There is a growing interest by corporations to find meaningful ways to give back and engage their employees to make a difference in their community. Explore a partnership with Flat Rock Brook.
To discuss opportunities for foundation, corporate or sponsorship support, please contact:
Great Fall Festival Details: From Sandy C. or Sandy P. via newsletter
Flat Rock Brook About to Add More Solar!
Thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor, 42 additional solar panels will be installed on our Nature Center building in September adding to the 46 panels currently in place which in total will provide about 1/2 of the electricity needed to run our building.
There are many benefits to going solar. As a generator of power, a mini electricity plant so to speak, we will offset over 20,000 kilowatt hours of electricity usage annually which will lead to significant reductions in our electricity bills for many years to come. Another economic benefit is that we will have the ability to auction off our Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). The New Jersey Clean Energy Programs explains SRECs like this: “Each time a solar installation generates 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, an SREC is earned. Solar project owners report the energy production to the SREC Tracking System. This reporting allows SREC’s to be placed in the customer's electronic account. SRECs can then be sold on the SREC Tracking System, providing revenue for the first 15 years of the project's life”.
The benefits gained from reduced electricity bills and the tradable SRECs means that Flat Rock Brook will benefit from our solar investment for many years to come. With solar panel installations having a useful life of about 20-25 years, you can see that this is not only a good investment for the environment, but it is a good investment for Flat Rock Brook’s bottom line.
To prepare for the new panels, Flat Rock Brook needed to replace our aging roof which was completed in July with funds provided once again by our very generous anonymous donor. Feel free to stop by the Nature Center this fall to see our new solar investment installed and check out our solar monitoring system!
Photo Caption: Roofing contractors replacing the Nature Center’s roof in preparation for 42 more solar panels
Flat Rock Receives Funds to Improve Park Entrances
We are pleased to announce that we have received $21,500 in support towards the renovation of the preserve’s five public entrances. Donors include $10,000 from the Bergen County Open Space Trust Fund, $7,500 from the New Jersey Committee of the Garden Club of America (with special support from the Garden Club of Englewood), $2,500 from Phil Ball and the Ball Team at Merrill Lynch and $1,500 from Bergen County Audubon Society.
With the funding, Flat Rock Brook proposes to restore the five public entrances to Flat Rock Brook Nature Center’s preserve to improve visitor’s accessibility and enjoyment of our facility. The design for the space was developed by Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, and the concept involves the removal of invasive plant species, replanting with thousands of native plants, and appropriate signage and accessibility improvements to improve the overall experience of visitors to Flat Rock. The funds will also address a need of the Nature Center to be able to secure all public entrances with appropriate gates to allow Nature Center staff the ability to close the park in certain circumstances such as storm events, police activity or other emergency situations.
The project has already commenced with our volunteer Gardening Committee removing invasive species at the entrances, and our Land Manager Ryan Hasko preparing native plant orders with an initial planting scheduled for this fall. Our Communications Committee is also meeting to develop strategies to improve our signage near the entrances, and we expect the entire project will be complete by fall 2017.
Flat Rock’s Executive Director Steve Wiessner receiving the $7,500 check from Rose Mahoney, President of the Garden Club of Englewood
Thanks to Our Summer Camp Staff, Apprentices and Volunteers!
We had another exciting summer here at Flat Rock Brook, and our camp was again a success. Thank you to all who made that possible, especially our staff, apprentices and volunteers. Our camp teachers, Brian Dedeian and Alissa Ambacher, did a fantastic job leading programs packed with games, activities, crafts, and hikes that kept the campers happily engaged! We were also grateful to have such enthusiastic counselors and apprentices this year: This year’s high school apprentices were Marrion Charlot, Khalid Isahak, Renae Ellis and Ming Powell. Also, thanks to the volunteers that helped make this summer successful one- Alissa Knopf, Tommy Muir. Many thanks to all for such a great time this summer!
Photo Caption: Need picture and caption from Alissa
Introducing Alissa Ambacher!
I’m happy to join the team at Flat Rock Brook Nature Center as an Environmental Educator. My background is in Environmental Studies, and I spent the last year completing a term of service with AmeriCorps as a Watershed Ambassador. Flat Rock Brook will allow me to combine my experiences with my passion for the environment. Although I am new to North Jersey, it is already very apparent that Flat Rock Brook is an oasis in an urbanized area. It is places like this that help spark a desire in people of all ages to learn, grow, and conserve. I’m excited to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with the wonderful community that helps keep this place running.
Photo: Need picture and caption from Alissa
Volunteer Spotlight: Louise Pitkin
Flat Rock Brook is pleased to honor a long-time Nature Center volunteer, Louise Pitkin. Louise has been active with the Nature Center for over two decades. Ms. Pitkin currently serves as an honorary member of our Board of Trustees, serving 7 years in that capacity. She also served on our Board of Trustees from 1996-2000, serving as President in 1998-99, and 2nd Vice President from 1996-1998. Louise has been an active member of the Nature Center’s Communications, Development and Land Stewardship Committees for many years, with Flat Rock tapping her unique expertise in graphic design to assist on many projects. In fact, Louise has managed our website for over a decade, provided graphic design support for our Nature Center for years, and has been the layout designer for our newsletter for nearly 20 years.
Louise has also been a generous donor to the Nature Center throughout the years, and when our new exhibit was built in 2012, she generously sponsored the installation of the 3D topographic map that is currently on display in our exhibit room. Louise was the 4th recipient of the coveted Campbell Norsgaard Award, which is the highest award that Flat Rock Brook can bestow which she accepted at our 40th Anniversary Recognition Dinner at the Englewood Field Club in May 2013. Louise has recently decided to relinquish her oversight of the newsletter and involvement in our website, but we wanted to express our gratitude for her service to the Nature Center through the years, and are pleased to offer her this small token of thanks in our Volunteer Spotlight from the entire Flat Rock Brook community.