FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 15, 2007

CONTACT: Debra Judd, 908-527-4930
Tom Plante, 908-527-4746

 

Union County Needs Volunteer Naturalists
 For Watchung Reservation Ecological Event:
‘Bio-Blitz 2007’ Is Being Planned for June 15-16

bio blitz

Scientists, naturalists and other volunteers are needed for the third annual Union County Bio-Blitz, which will be held on June 15 and 16 in the Watchung Reservation, a 2,060-acre county park in Summit, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Mountainside and Berkeley Heights. 

A bio-blitz is a 24-hour survey designed to sample and identify the flora and fauna in a given location. It has a dual purpose: to obtain a snapshot of the biodiversity at the site, and to raise public awareness of the importance of open spaces as ecological resources or outdoor classrooms.

Conducted by the Union County Department of Parks, Recreation and Facilities and co-sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Rahway River Association, the bio-blitz will begin at 5:00 p.m. Friday, June 15, and run through 5:00 p.m. Saturday, June 16.

bio blitz

Scientists and naturalists will be in the field for varying lengths of time throughout the 24-hour event equipped with nets, boots, insect & mammal traps, headlamps, bird tapes and other tools. They will be working in eight separate teams, collecting and/or identifying fungi (mushrooms), plants, macro-inverts, insects, herps (reptiles and amphibians), fish, birds and mammals.

bio blitz

Hands-on exhibits and a working insect and fungi lab will be available in a Bio-Blitz Central Tent. Animals and plants collected in the field also will be on display at the tent.

The first Union County/Rahway River Association bio-blitz was held in 2005 at Lenape Park in Cranford, Westfield, Kenilworth and Springfield, during which team leaders and aides identified 660 species of living things.

Last year, in the 460-acre Ash Brook Reservation in Scotch Plains, 662 species were identified and recorded. A special Bio-Blitz website designed by Sylvio Codella, of Kean University, provides more information about previous Bio-Blitzes along with pictures of the events. Visit the site: http://www.kean.edu/~scodella/BioBlitz05/BlitzHome.html

The 2007 Bio-Blitz in Watchung Reservation offers exciting opportunities for scientists and the public alike. Easy access via an extensive trail system and park roads will allow sampling at several water bodies and in diverse habitats, including wetlands, pine forests, upland forests, meadows and more.

Additionally, Bio-Blitz 2007 coincides with the Grand Re-Opening of the newly refurbished Trailside Nature & Science Center in the Watchung Reservation. Completed in September, 2006, the state-of-the-art displays at Trailside interpret the natural history of woodlands, meadows and streams and include exhibits of live fish, turtles and snakes.

Anyone interested in assisting at the 2007 Bio-Blitz should contact Betty Ann Kelly, environmental specialist in the Union County Department of Parks, Recreation and Facilities, at bkelly@ucnj.org
or 908) 527-4231.