FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 28, 2008

CONTACT: Sebastian D’Elia, 908-527-4419
Tom Plante, 908-527-4746

 

‘Bio-Blitz 2008’ Explores River Parkway in Elizabeth, Union and Hillside, June 13-14
Event Sponsored by County of Union, Kean University & Institute for Urban Ecosystem Studies Includes Free Nature Programs, Displays & 24-hour Scientific Survey

Dorothy Smullen of New Jersey Mycological Association works to identify a macro fungi at Bio-Blitz 2007
Dorothy Smullen of New Jersey Mycological Association works to identify a macro fungi at Bio-Blitz 2007

ELIZABETH, NJ – Beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 13, Union County will be offering residents an opportunity to get up-close and personal with wildlife in their own “backyard” during Bio-Blitz 2008. The event will have teams of wildlife specialists and scientists scouring river, stream, forest and field habitats in search of every animal and plant that calls the Elizabeth River Parkway “home” over a 24-hour period.

Former Trailside Nature & Science Center naturalist Becky Novello shows young naturalists a turtle at Bio-Blitz 2007
Former Trailside Nature & Science Center naturalist Becky Novello shows young naturalists a turtle at Bio-Blitz 2007 (photo by Gary Szelc)

The primary purpose of Bio-Blitz 2008 is to get a “snapshot” of the biodiversity (or richness of species) in the 312-plus acres of Union County parkland that buffers the Elizabeth River. Plant, fungi, insect, fish, bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile experts (along with amateur naturalist volunteers) will collect and identify species in the field and return to Bio-Blitz Central to sort and count their findings. The Bio-Blitz Central Tent will be located on the East Campus of Kean University on Irvington Avenue in Hillside, just off North Avenue.

Karen Inzillo (Assistant Director at Trailside Nature & Science Center) speaks to a group of participants about proper lake sampling techniques at Bio-Blitz 2007
Karen Inzillo (Assistant Director at Trailside Nature & Science Center) speaks to a group of participants about proper lake sampling techniques at Bio-Blitz 2007 (photo by Linda Brazaitis)

“The County of Union is proud to sponsor this annual survey of biodiversity and we welcome the support of Kean University and the many organizations and schools that will make up the Bio-Blitz team this year,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada. “Together we will increase our appreciation of the natural world around us and share this knowledge with others to improve our quality of life.”

A stretch of the Elizabeth River in Hillside, setting for Bio-Blitz 2008
A stretch of the Elizabeth River in Hillside, setting for Bio-Blitz 2008 (photo by Betty Ann Kelly)

The areas of the Elizabeth River Parkway that will be surveyed include: Mattano Park and the Pruden section in Elizabeth; the Ursino, Woodruff and Salem sections in Hillside and Union; and the Chatfield and Lightning Brook sections in Union.

Patty Bertsch helps junior naturalists identify pond critters at Bio-Blitz 2007
Patty Bertsch helps junior naturalists identify pond critters at Bio-Blitz 2007 (photo by Betty Ann Kelly)

Another important goal of the event is to raise public awareness about the importance of urban wildlife areas and parks. Although the Elizabeth River Parkway is surrounded by urban/suburban development, it is home to many plants and animals. Free public programming will be offered throughout the event, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Friday, June 13, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 14.

Participants can choose from a “Nighttime Awareness” program on Friday led by staff from the well-known New Jersey tracker and author Tom Brown’s Children of the Earth Foundation; an owl prowl; a program about bats; and a presentation by the Trailside Nature & Science Center staff and the Staten Island Zoo about reptiles and amphibians.

Saturday’s programs will offer plant identification and beginner bird walks, a Nature Awareness program with the Children of the Earth Foundation, stream sampling with New Jersey Americorps Watershed Program staff, and a fish sampling demonstration by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish & Wildlife staff. Throughout the day, children can play “Nature Bingo” and win a prize, and visitors can enjoy hands-on demonstrations and displays including live animals and plants under the Bio-Blitz Central Tent. Participants for these programs can sign up for them at the Registration tent also located on Kean’s East Campus.

Additionally, on Saturday the Appalachian Mountain Club will lead a hike along the Elizabeth River Parkway. Club members Steve Shaffer and John Carr with Union County Landscape Architect Sean Ryan will lead participants on a unique walk filled with historical tidbits about the area and parkland. Participants in this particular hike can contact the Appalachian Mountain Club at 347-886-3070.

The Elizabeth River Parkway was acquired in the 1930s by the County of Union. The Parkway was designed by the Olmsted Landscape Architect Firm (designers of Central Park, Prospect Park, the Emerald Necklace and the Washington Memorial) as a passive use park and a link in a chain of historically important parks that form a greenway along the river.

Bio-Blitz 2008 is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, Kean University and Kean’s Institute of Urban Ecosystem Studies. Partial funding has been provided by the Schering-Plough Corporation. The sponsors are partnering with many other organizations, including the Arthur Kill Watershed Association; Auburn University of Texas; the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Columbia University; the Colonia High School Fishing Club; Friends of Lenape Park; Groundwork Elizabeth; National Biodiversity Parks, Inc.; the New Jersey Mycological Association; New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish & Wildlife; NJDEP Americorps Watershed Ambassador Program; The Staten Island Zoo; the Torrey Botanical Society; the Union County Parks Advisory Board; the Union Garden Club; Wild Birds Unlimited; and WildMetro.

For more information about Bio-Blitz 2008 or to receive a brochure,
call 908-527-4231 and leave your email address
or pick up a brochure at Trailside Nature & Science Center,
located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

Click here for more information