West Essex Park is located in the western section of Essex County. It stretches along six miles of the Passaic River starting at Bloomfield Avenue in Fairfield, and ends just beyond South Orange Avenue in Livingston. The 1,360-acre park is primarily a wetlands preserve and remains undeveloped.
The former Park Commission first began acquiring this land in 1955. Money to purchase the first piece of property came in part from the sale of Oraton Parkway to the New Jersey Highway Authority. Over subsequent years, other land was purchased from more than 70 individual landowners.
March 1972, at a site on Eagle Rock Avenue in Roseland, which was once a tavern and stagecoach stop, the Center for Environmental Studies was opened to the public. The nearby bridge over the Passaic River is where Morris County’s historic Patriots Path connects with the Lenape Trail in Essex County. For more than two decades the Division of Environmental Studies provided educational programs until fiscal problems closed the facility and the Division was disbanded. A resurgence of interest in recent years and the aggressive pursuit of grant money resulted in the state-of-the-art facility that houses the new Environmental Center today.
In 2002, a new golf driving range and recreation center opened at what was once the “charm acres” picnic and camping area. In 2003, a large portion of the park became a conservation easement, protecting it from future development