FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2009

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

 

Volunteer Scientists Needed for Bio-Blitz, June 12-13,
at Briant Park, Hidden Valley & Houdaille Quarry

Union County’s 5th Annual Bio-Blitz will take place over a 24-hour period on June 12 through June 13 and scientists and skilled naturalists, assisted by community volunteers will fan out across Briant Park, Hidden Valley and Houdaille Quarry in Summit and Springfield in a race against time to identify as many living creatures as possible.

Take a few crayfish, a salamander or two, some snakes, owls, hawks, wildflowers, trees, fish, micro and macro fungi, butterflies, bees, coyotes and white-tailed deer and add in basalt outcroppings along a scenic ridge in an old quarry, a beautiful valley surrounded by an American beech forest and a small but historically significant jewel of a park and add about 150 or more scientists and naturalists and you have the makings of a Bio-Blitz.

Union County’s 5th Annual Bio-Blitz will take place over a 24-hour period on June 12 through
June 13 and scientists and skilled naturalists, assisted by community volunteers will fan out across Briant Park, Hidden Valley and Houdaille Quarry in Summit and Springfield in a race against time to identify as many living creatures as possible.

A bio-blitz is an intensive effort to identify plants or animals found in a given area – in this case, the 173+-acre trio of Union County parks.  Although the park is surrounded by suburban development it is a perfect example of how these green spaces can provide a haven for people and wildlife.

The event is being 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 and donations will be provided by PSE&G, Whole Foods and Starbucks.

The sponsors are also partnering with many other organizations, including Arthur Kill Watershed Association, Auburn University of Texas, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Briant Parkway Olmsted Conservancy, Columbia University,  Friends of Lenape Park,  National biodiversity Parks, Inc., NJ Mycological Association, NJ Department of Environmental Protection Fish & Wildlife, NJ DEP Americorps Watershed Ambassador Program, Reeves Reed Arboretum, The Staten Island Zoo, Torrey Botanical Society, Trailside Nature & Science Center, Union County Parks Advisory Board, Summit Garden Club, Wild Birds Unlimited and WildMetro.

The goal of this effort is to raise awareness of the diversity of life in these parks and the wonderful resources they offer for recreation and as outdoor classrooms. Specialists have already been recruited but many more are needed in areas ranging from butterflies and dragonflies to fungi, grasses, other vegetation, birds and mammals, to identify the hundreds of species that exist in the park. Along with woodland, stream, river and field habitats, this year’s Blitz will offer unique ridge and valley habitat which may yield surprising results.

The Bio-Blitz Committee is certain that most visitors to this year’s event will be pleasantly surprised at just how much wildlife exists in this suburban “backyard” and their hope is to top last year’s total of 570 species. To receive a Bio-Blitz 2008 Results Brochure call 908-659-7464 and leave your email address or pick one up at Trailside Nature & Science Center at
452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

The “blitz” will start in the park at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 12, with staff and scientists on-hand throughout the night. Other volunteers will work in shifts on Saturday, June 13, until 5 p.m.

Bio-Blitz Central which will be located at Briant Park, will feature a large tent which will house a field lab for scientists as well as live exhibits including reptiles, amphibians, fish and plants. Event-day results and identifications will be posted at the tent and the public is encouraged to “rub elbows” with scientists in the outdoor lab. Public programs and workshops including an owl prowl, stream search, birding for beginners, a nighttime awareness walk and family nature awareness daytime hike and more will be offered. The event is free to all. Program details will be announced at a future date.

Scientists, naturalists and amateur naturalists interested in participating on a Bio-Blitz Team, must call Susan Terraat the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal,
(908) 527-4032 to receive a brochure and to register.