Wildlife & Natural Resources Management

Union County Parks follow NJ COVID-19 guidelines: Social distancing required/Masks strongly recommended

Union County Parks follow NJ COVID-19 guidelines:  Social distancing required/Masks strongly recommended

In accordance with State executive orders, Union County parks have reopened and are operating in accordance with current COVID-19 guidelines.

“Masks and social distance are the only effective tools we have for stopping the spread of COVID-19, so we strongly urge visitors to continue to observe precautions against infection while enjoying outdoor activities in County parks,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

Social distancing, wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, and keeping hands away from one’s face are among the basic and most effective precautions for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and other infections. Persons who feel sick should stay away from others.

The following rules apply to Parks activities:

  • Trail biking:Trail biking is prohibited in all Union County parks. Trail biking was prohibited before the COVID-19 outbreak, and the prohibitions continue. Bicycles are permitted on paved paths and roadways.
  • Closed: The Warinanco Sports Center and the Trailside Nature and Science Center remain closed.
  • Recreation Facilities reopened with restrictionsGalloping Hill and Ashbrook Golf Courses, Oak Ridge Archery Range, tennis courts, Echo Lake and Warinanco dog parks, Watchung Stable (Details on Parks website)
  • Picnic areas: The maximum number of people allowed in a picnic area varies. Check with Parks Reservation Desk for capacity before reserving a picnic area, 908-527-4900.
  • Athletic fields: As per executive order, prior restrictions are lifted
  • Playgrounds: Parks playgrounds are open at Cedar Brook, Conant, Echo Lake, Esposito, Green Brook, John Russell, Wheeler, Lighting Brook, Loop Playground, Madison Avenue, Mattano, Mohawk, Mohawk, Nomahegan, Phil Rizzuto, Ponderosa, Rahway, Rutgers Ave, Snyder, Unami, Warinanco, Wheeler
  • Walking/Cycling/Fishing: Individual activities such as walking, jogging, biking and fishing are allowed. Bicycles are allowed on paved pathways only. No bicycles are allowed on unpaved paths and trails in Union County parks.
  • Use of walking path: Give way to others to maintain six-foot distance when passing.
  • Masks: Strongly recommended.
  • Parking and hours of use: Parking hours vary in Union County Parks and are posted in all lots.
  • Reporting abuse of social distance guidelines: Call Union County Police908-654-9800.

For maps, directions, and more information about activities in Union County parks, visit online at ucnj.org/parks, email parksinfo@ucnj.org, or call 908-527-4900.

Park visitors please note: Stay on marked trails to preserve fragile native habitat. The taking of plants and other wildlife is prohibited. Share paved paths by keeping to the right unless passing. Dogs must be kept on leash. All trash must be carried out where receptacles are full or unavailable. 

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including guidance for the Test Center, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update.

For general information about COVID-19 and phone contacts for 24/7 assistance with questions, visit the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

Union County Parks are among the most heavily used recreational areas in the region, whether it’s for a soccer match at Warinanco Park or a hike through the 2,000-acre Watchung Reservation.

Maintaining these parks, along with preserving them for future generations, also involves managing the wildlife populations that inhabit these green spaces. In an urban area like Union County, most predatory species are gone. So it is up to Parks to maintain the environmental balance that Mother Nature once handled.

When deer populations far exceed the carrying capacity of a preserve like the Watchung Reservation, they destroy the understory, which is vital to the survival of smaller species.

When Canada Geese stop migrating, their huge numbers not only create problems for park users, but also end up polluting the lakes and ponds.

The Parks System, along with the state Department of Environmental Protection, seeks to maintain a environmental balance in the parks that is healthy, both for wildlife and the habitats.

In this section are more details on how Wildlife Management is carried out in the Parks System.