“Get Your Nature On!” at 24-Hour Event
in Lenape, Nomahegan & Echo Lake Parks
CRANFORD, NJ – Nature lovers of all ages will have the opportunity to get up-close and personal with wildlife in their own “backyard” during Bio-Blitz 2013, beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 14. The annual outdoor event will organize teams of plant and wildlife specialists to scour three Union County parks in Cranford, Kenilworth, Mountainside, Union and Westfield in search of plants and animals over a 24-hour period.
Expert and amateur scientists and naturalists are needed as members of Bio-Blitz teams. To register as a volunteer, go to the Union County website: www.ucnj.org/bio-blitz or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Please specify your level of experience and team preference.
Plant, fungi, insect, fish, bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile experts, and water monitors along with amateur naturalists will collect and identify species from the three parks. Teams will return to Bio-Blitz Central, an outdoor, tented field lab and exhibit space in Lenape Park, off Kenilworth Blvd. in Cranford, to sort and count what they find.
“The Bio-Blitz is a great opportunity for the community and visiting scientists to learn more about the natural places that make Union County a special place to live,” said Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter. “Although these parks are surrounded by suburban development, Nomahegan, Lenape and Echo Lake are perfect examples of how green spaces can provide a haven for people and wildlife.”
The primary purpose of Bio-Blitz 2013 is to gain a “snapshot” of the biodiversity (or richness of species) in this trio of interconnecting Union County parks. Another important goal of the event is to raise public awareness of the importance of parkland as wildlife habitat and outdoor classrooms. These greenways provide valuable habitat and act as a stopover and wildlife corridor for migratory and resident wildlife, including red tail hawks, screech owls, great horned owls, great egrets, great blue herons, coyotes and foxes.
Free nature-related programs for all ages will be offered throughout the event, including evening programs from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Friday, June 14, and from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. Free shuttle buses will be available to get participants to and from program sites. Programs offered will include: Frog Slog; Owl Prowl; Star Watch; River and Lake Sampling; Wild Edible Plant Walk; Live Hawk & Owl Talk; Early Morning Birding, and more. Bio-Blitz Bingo will offer younger “scientists” an opportunity to record their findings and enter a drawing to win nature-related prizes. A Junior Scientist tent will have young naturalists interacting with hands-on activities related to the natural environment.
Bio-Blitz 2013 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,” caffeinated and “clothed” thanks to generous donations from ShopRite of Clark, Starbucks of Westfield, Jenkinson’s Aquarium, and Whole Foods. Additional donations will be provided by the Rahway River Association, Wild Birds Unlimited and other area vendors.
Other partner organizations include the Army Corps of Engineers, Arthur Kill Watershed Association, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Friends of Lenape Park, New Jersey Mycological Association, Newark Museum, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Fish & Wildlife, New Jersey American Water, the NJDEP AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Plant Protection and Quarantine Programs. Union County’s Trailside Nature & Science Center staff also will be on-hand to offer guided walks and provide live animal exhibits.
For more information, visit www.ucnj.org/bio-blitz.