FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 1, 2008

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

 

“Adopt-a-Park” Volunteers Are Needed for Mattano Park
and Passaic River Park Training Dates

 

Kean University professor, Dr. Daniela Shebitz (right), poses with a group of Ecology students
Kean University professor, Dr. Daniela Shebitz (right), poses with a group of Ecology students who removed invasive plants at a shoreline restoration project in Warinanco Park in Roselle.

Do you love the outdoors and being active? Do you have a little time to spare? The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks and Community Renewal offer opportunities for park users to learn new skills, meet new people and feel a sense of accomplishment during upcoming “Adopt-a-Park” Training Days.

Participants will learn about invasive plants (which compete aggressively with native species) and why they must be managed. They will learn appropriate removal techniques and other skills during hands-on training and “weed-outs” at various Union County parks. The training sites in August will include Passaic River Park in Berkeley Heights and Mattano Park in Elizabeth.

“With more than 35 parks to manage, the Department of Parks and Community Renewal relies on partnerships and stewardship to help maintain 6,600 acres of public parkland,” said Freeholder Rick Proctor, liaison to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “The Adopt-a-Park Program is a great opportunity for volunteers to work together for the benefit of the parks throughout Union County.”

On Thursday, August 7, training will take place at Passaic River Park, a beautiful floodplain park in Berkeley Heights. Meet at the Snyder Avenue entrance off Springfield Avenue where stewards will work to remove invasive phragmites, multiflora rose and Japanese knotweed and prune vegetation growing into the trail bed.

On Thursday, August 14, stewards-in-training will work at Mattano Park in Elizabeth to remove phragmites, Japanese knotweed and mugwort. This work will continue the efforts of other groups to meet the goals of a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “Partners for Wildlife” grant-funded project.

Thanks to assistance from Union County United Way, Groundwork Elizabeth and the Morris Land Conservancy, the Union County Adopt-a-Park Program has participants from many local corporate and non-profit groups, including Merck, Schering-Plough, Martindale-Hubble, Lexis-Nexis, Motorola, Banco Popular, Summer of Service, Elizabeth High School, Plainfield & Elizabeth Youth Corps, the Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission, scouting groups, youth groups and many others.

While the efforts of these and other groups are invaluable, they are usually one-day affairs. Adoption of sites on a quarterly or annual basis is vital to the success of such projects. Following each training session, participants will learn how they can adopt a park of their choosing and work at a day and time convenient to their personal schedule.

All training sessions begin at
9:30 a.m. and end at 12:15 p.m.

Groundwork Elizabeth director, Jonathan Phillips, smiles for the camera with his group of teens from “Summer of Service” program
Groundwork Elizabeth director, Jonathan Phillips, smiles for the camera with his group of teens from “Summer of Service” program. The group removed invasive plants, pruned native vegetation and removed litter from Mattano Park in Elizabeth. The group’s efforts will coincide with those of Union County & U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s project to improve wildlife habitat and biodiversity at the park.

Employees from Banco Popular work to “stomp” phragmites, a very aggressive, invasive plant that competes with native vegetation growing in Mattano Park in Elizabeth
Employees from Banco Popular work to “stomp” phragmites, a very aggressive, invasive plant that competes with native vegetation growing in Mattano Park in Elizabeth. Their work will help to weaken the plant which will then be further managed and native plants will be installed to replace it.

Employees from Motorola Corp. remove litter and debris from Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield
Employees from Motorola Corp. remove litter and debris from Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield.

Tools, gloves and bags will be provided, but feel free to bring your favorite tool. These training events are held rain or shine, so please dress accordingly and wear sturdy shoes or boots!

Registration is required for each of the above-mentioned training events. Call Linda Brazaitis at 908-659-7464 (Wednesday through Friday) or e-mail at lbrazaitis@ucnj.org. For more information about Union County Adopt-A-Park go to: http://www.ucnj.org/parks/adoptpark.html.