Public Info

Community Science Project Invites Union County Residents to Document Biodiversity of Rain Gardens

butterfly perched on a flowerUnion County, NJ – Union County residents of all ages can become community scientists by identifying and photographing butterflies, birds, and other wildlife for the “Rain Gardens of Union County” project. The project is being run through the Rutgers Cooperative Extension program of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

“The Rain Gardens of Union County project is a unique opportunity for residents of all ages to help demonstrate how rain gardens can help attract and preserve pollinators and other wildlife in the urban and suburban environment. We hope the experience inspires the installation of additional rain gardens in our community,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

Rain gardens are attractive, low maintenance garden areas that are specially designed to help reduce flooding and pollution in local waterways. They capture and filter rainwater and snowmelt that would otherwise flow into the street from driveways, rooftops and other hard surfaces.

When planted with native species, rain gardens also attract bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife.

Approximately 30 rain gardens have been installed throughout Union County. Many are located on the grounds of public buildings and other locations accessible to the public, including several in Union County’s Watchung Reservation, by the Trailside Nature and Science Center at 152 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

Residents who are interested in joining the rain garden documentation project can find complete instructions online at the “Rain Gardens of Union County” page on the Rutgers NJAES website, at The page includes a Google map showing the location of local rain gardens.

Starting on July 1, a patch will be available to Girl Scouts who participate in this project from the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey. For more information about the GSHNJ Guardian of the Rain Garden project, visit or contact GSHNJ at or 908-518-4400.

For additional information, contact Michele Bakacs, Rutgers NJAES Agriculture & Natural Resources County Agent, at

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County is supported in part by the Commissioner Board, with offices at the Union County complex at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield.

For more information on all Extension programs available to Union County residents, including the popular Master Gardener, Master Tree Steward, Environmental Steward, and 4-H youth development programs, visit online at

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and volunteer activities, including the Trailside Nature and Science Center, visit The Green Connection at

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Union County COVID-19 Test Center at Kean University, the Mobile Test Unit, vaccination information, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at


For all Union County programs and services visit, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email or use the online Contact Form.

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