BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Winter is a busy time of the year at the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge, with both indoors and outdoors activities either planned or underway.
Activities include the continuation of the annual "Nature Through A Child's Eye" in the main exhibit hall at the Somerset County-owned EEC at 190 Lord Stirling Road. Students from St. James School in Basking Ridge and at the Bedwell Elementary School and St. Elizabeth School in Bernardsville are among child artists who contributed to the exhibit, which continues through this week.
Throughout the month of February, EEC naturalists will lead a weekly walking group on Tuesdays, February 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2017 and Sundays, February 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2017. Walks are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., beginning from the EEC building.
Adults seeking an interesting way to enhance their routine workouts will enjoy a brisk walk to improve health and clear the mind along the beautiful trails of Lord Stirling Park. Walkers will maintain a moderate pace for the hour-long walk, according to information from the EEC..
The fee for the five Tuesday sessions is $25, and fee for the four Sunday sessions is $20. Registrations and payment may be made online at www.somersetcountyparks.org, in-person at the Environmental Education Center, via mail, or by telephone (if using a credit card) at 908-766-2489.
However, all residents should be aware that the EEC trails are closed for four days this winter, to allow deer hunting on the land, arranged in conjunction with the Bernards Township deer management program. The first date was on Jan. 25, and the next scheduled date for trails closure is Friday, Feb. 3.
The trails at the EEC attract hikers and, weather permitting, cross country skiers throughout the winter. The trails at the EEC include eight and one-half miles on relatively flat terrain throughout 450 acres of The Great Swamp. Approximately three miles are board walked. The Yellow Trail approaches the Passaic River and the southern perimeter of the park (the Blue and Red trails) is a succession that is slowly changing abandoned farm fields to woodland.
Nature Through a Child's Eye, the 25th annual exhibit of children's art with an environmental theme will be on display at the Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center (EEC) at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge. The exhibit will continue through Sunday, February 5, 2017. The EEC is open every day from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Admission is to the exhibit is free.
Maple sugaring demonstrations begin in February
Later in February, and continuing into March, the EEC staff will again conduct its winter/early spring maple sugaring demonstrations at the property's outdoors "Sugar Shack." People of all ages are invited to see this tradition, which began centuries ago in the Northeast, brought to life at the EEC.
Participants will see how trees are tapped, view sap-collecting methods past and present, and see the boiling process that produces delicious New Jersey maple syrup. The 90-minute program is conducted at the Sugar Shack, which is a half-mile hike from the EEC. Participants should arrive arrive at the EEC 20 to 30 minutes before the program's start time and dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Boots are recommended as the trails can be wet, muddy, and/or covered by snow. Suggested donation is $1 per person. The first dates in February 18, 19, 25, 26, at times ranging between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information is on the Somerset County Parks Commission website.
The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center is located within the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. The wide variety of habitats includes: floodplains, swamps, rivers, intermittent streams, marshes, meadows, fields, forests, and natural and man-made ponds. These habitats provide homes for diverse plant and animal populations in this environmentally sensitive park, according to information from the Somerset County Park Commission. All are within walking distance of the EEC, which includes exhibition space, a shop, and an environmentally-based library is located within the center itself. The Exhibit Hall annually hosts environmentally-focused presentations that are free to the public.The Environmental Education Center is open seven days each week. Call 908-766-2489 for schedule updates.
Dog walking is not permitted on the trails of the EEC. The nearby Somerset County Lord Stirling Stable off South Maple Avenue holds sanctioned weekly dog walks on those trails throughout the year.
For more information on activities at the EEC and nearby county parklands, visit www.somersetcountyparks.org.