Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has once again put out the call for volunteer scientists and knowledgeable experts to join the Union County Bio-Blitz, an annual ‘round the clock survey of flora and fauna in County parks.
The 2017 Union County Bio-Blitz will be conducted in two sessions over a two-day period in Warinanco Park, also known as the “Central Park of Union County.”
“Bio-Blitz is a wonderful opportunity to participate in environmental stewardship,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “It is our signature event for raising public awareness about nature conservation in our County parks, and it could not happen without scores of volunteer researchers who lend their time to the effort each year.”
One area of focus for this year’s Bio-Blitz will be a stream daylighting project. The project dates back several years ago, when an underground piped stream in Warinanco Park was rehabilitated and exposed to the open air.
“Volunteers with the Union County Adopt-a-Park program spent many chilly hours over the winter to improve the habitat in and around the stream bed,” said Vice Chairman Sergio Granados, who is the Freeholder liaison to the Union County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “We are looking forward to cataloging the fruits of their labor during Bio-Blitz 2017.”
Union County has held a Bio-Blitz in various parts of its park system every year since 2004. The event is designed to engage the public in nature conservation while providing researchers with valuable information about biodiversity in urban and suburban communities.
Scientists and naturalists are needed to help sample, observe, identify, and record hundreds of plant and animal species, including fungi and insects.
The first session is scheduled for Friday, June 16 from 5:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The second session is scheduled for Saturday, June 17 from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Professional scientists, naturalists and knowledgeable amateurs can register online to join a field team or perform other volunteer activities at the Bio-Blitz web page, ucnj.org/bio-blitz.
The registration deadline is June 1 but participating team members and volunteers are advised to sign up early.
All participants on research teams and other volunteer assignments receive a Bio-Blitz t-shirt and meals at the “Bio-Blitz Central” staging area, which will be located in the newly renovated Warinanco Ice Skating Center.
Bio-Blitz is also open for public observation throughout the event. Bio-Blitz Central will be the hub for nature themed activities and programs that bring visitors to different parts of the park. All public activities are free and no pre-registration is required.
Warinanco Park is located in the City of Elizabeth and the Borough of Roselle. It was designed and built in the 1920’s by the firm of the John and Frederick Olmsted, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the renowned designer of New York City’s Central Park.
Considered the centerpiece of the Union County park system, Warinanco features scenic landscapes, winding pathways, picnic areas, a new “sprayground” for children, provision for boating, fishing, ice skating and team sports, groves of magnolia and cherry trees, a rustic azalea garden and the formal Chatfield Garden.
Warinanco also showcases several of the County’s conservation initiatives. In addition to the stream daylighting project, a shoreline restoration project around the park’s centerpiece lake has created an inviting habitat for diverse species.
The restoration project involved replacing mowed areas at the water’s edge with rocks and native plantings. Visitors can enjoy strolling past a generous display of pollinator-friendly wildflowers and native grasses along the western shore during the spring, summer and early fall.
The Chatfield Garden, formerly reserved for tulips, was recently replanted with pollinator-friendly perennials.
For more information about volunteering for Bio-Blitz 2017, contact Betty Ann Kelly, Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo Caption: A Plant Team searches for species to catalogue during last year’s Union County Bio-Blitz. Credit: Daniela Shebbitz.