Important Bird and Birding Areas
Garret Mountain

IBBA Site Guide

Passaic County
Coordinates: N 40.89201
W 74.18311
Skylands: Piedmont

Area: 674 Acres     

Habitat: Primarily deciduous forest

Site Description: The Garret Mountain IBA consists of Passaic County’s Garret Mountain Reservation and the adjacent Rifle Camp Park. The sites deciduous forests, riparian habitats and ponds are a significant stopover for migratory landbirds as well as a major recreational component of the Passaic County Park System. Garret Mountain is one of twelve National Natural Landmarks (NNL) designated in New Jersey by the National Park Service. The NNL Program encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of biological and geological features found throughout the country.

IBA Criteria:
Significant Migrant Stopover/Flyover (FM, SM)Landbirds
Connecticut Warbler
Connecticut WarblerStephanie Seymour
Birds: This site is a significant migratory stopover site utilized by a diversity of warblers, vireos, thrushes, sparrows, flycatchers, swallows and wrens during spring and fall migration. Garret Mountain also occasionally supports breeding Barred Owls, Kentucky Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers and Yellow-breasted Chats.

Conservation: The forested habitats of the Garret Mountain IBA are entirely surrounded by intense residential and commercial development. Impacts from the adjacent development include nonpoint source pollution and recreational disturbance. Although the entirety of this site is protected from development as open space by Passaic County and the Passaic Valley Water Commission, development and disturbance within park boundaries may be degrading the site. Threats within the parks include expansion of the Garret Mountain Equestrian Center and playing fields, accumulation of litter, recreational overuse and disturbance from visitors and unleashed dogs. One of the greatest threats the park faces comes from its extremely dense white-tailed deer population. This problem is more recent in the Garret Mountain IBA than in other urban parks in NJ, and therefore more easily reversible. However, the damage being inflicted by extensive browsing of deer is severe and must be remedied before the site becomes permanently damaged. Examples of native understory plants can still be seen, however the impacts of white-tailed deer and their systematic destruction of this important component of the forest is evident. If something is not done about the deer in the very near future, Garret Mountain’s legendary reputation as a critical site for migratory birds will soon be undone. Invasive plant species, such as multiflora-rose (Rosa multiflora) and garlic-mustard (Alliaria petiolata), are outcompeting the native understory here. The forests of the region are further threatened by invasions of exotic forest pests, including the gypsy moth, and diseases such as beech bark disease. The Friends of Garret Mountain (FOGM), a volunteer group founded in 2003, have advocated for the protection of this area. FOGM has partnered with the Passaic County sheriff and director of parks to enforce park regulations. They are also working in cooperation with the New Jersey Youth Corporation, the Clifton Environmental Commission and the Lower Passaic and Saddle River Alliance to educate park visitors to reduce litter, prevent disturbance of wildlife and improve water quality.

Additional Information: Site Report
Garret Mountain Reservation
Garret Mountain ReservationChris Takacs