Public Info

Union County Hosts 7th Annual Bio-Blitz, June 10-11

Public Invited; Naturalists & Scientists Are Needed

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 10, Union County will be offering an opportunity for people to get up-close and personal with wildlife in their own “backyard” during Bio-Blitz 2011. The event will have teams of plant and wildlife specialists, plus amateur naturalists, scouring a study site that includes sections of Union County’s Passaic River Parkway in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Summit in search of plants and animals over a 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 11.

“Everyone is invited to Bio-Blitz 2011, including people of all ages, as well as school, scout and community groups,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon. “Expert and amateur scientists and naturalists are especially welcome to participate as team members. The success of Bio-Blitz 2011 is dependent upon the size and skill of the teams.”

To register as a volunteer or to receive a brochure and application, call 908-789-3683. When calling, please specify your level of experience and team preference.

Plant, fungi, insect, fish, bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile, and water monitoring experts (along with amateur naturalists) are needed to collect and identify species from the three sections of parkland. Teams will return to Bio-Blitz Central, an outdoor, tented field lab and exhibit space near River Road and Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights to sort and count what they find.

Nature-related programs will be offered free to all throughout the event. They will include evening programs from 6 – 11 p.m. on Friday, and daytime programs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Shuttles will be available to get participants to and from program sites. Programs will include River & Stream Life; Owl Prowl; Wild Edibles Walk; Fungi Foray; Mammal Tracking; Morning Bird Walk, and more. Bio-Blitz Bingo will give younger “scientists” an opportunity to record their findings and enter a drawing to win nature-related prizes.

The primary purpose of the Bio-Blitz is to gain a “snapshot” of the biodiversity (or richness of species) in the 298 – acre Passaic River Parkway. Another important goal of the event is to raise public awareness of the importance of parkland as wildlife habitat and outdoor classrooms.

Although the study site is surrounded by suburban development, it is home to many plants and animals. The Passaic River Parkway, acquired by Union County in the 1960s, boasts some excellent floodplain, stream, river, meadow and woodland habitat. Greenways provide valuable habitat, and act as a stopover and corridor for migratory and resident wildlife, including red tail hawks, owls, great egrets, great blue herons, coyotes, fox, and much more.

Bio-Blitz 2011 is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, Kean University and the Rahway River Association, with partial funding provided by PSE&G.

Team volunteers will be fed and “watered” thanks to generous donations from Whole Foods, Starbucks, New Jersey American Water, and ShopRite. Additional donations will be provided by the Rahway River Association, Home Depot, Halls Garden Center, M721 Organics, Back2Tap and Wild Birds Unlimited.

Other partner organizations include the Arthur Kill Watershed Association, Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Friends of Lenape Park, New Jersey Mycological Association, Newark Museum, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish & Wildlife, the NJDEP AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program, Passaic River Coalition, Passaic River Institute, and the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service & Plant Protection & Quarantine Programs.

For more information or to receive a brochure, call 908-789-3683 and leave your email address; pick up a brochure at Trailside Nature & Science Center, 452 New Providence Road (at Coles Avenue) in Mountainside; or visit us at

Click each photo for a larger view of it

The Fish Team will demonstrate sampling techniques in the Passaic River during Bio-Blitz 2011

(photo by Gary Szelc)

Bio-Blitz 2011 participants can search for owls on Friday evening, June 10

(photo by Natalie Gregorio)

The Passaic River Parkway in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Summit will be the setting for Union County’s Bio-Blitz 2011 on June 10-11. To volunteer or receive a brochure, call 908-789-3683

(photo by Betty Ann Kelly)

A box turtle found at last year’s Union County Bio-Blitz

(photo by Debbie Partesi)

Young naturalist takes a close look at a yellow perch at Bio-Blitz 2010

(photo by Debbie Partesi)


The Fungi Team takes a break during Union County’s Bio-Blitz

(photo by Debbie Partesi)