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Help Discover Wildlife in the “Central Park” of Union County

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A Plant Team searches for species to catalog during last year’s Union County Bio-Blitz. Credits: Daniela Shebbitz.
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UNION COUNTY, NJ – Volunteer scientists and knowledgeable experts are needed for the Union County Bio-Blitz, an annual ‘round the clock survey of flora and fauna in County parks, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced.

The 2017 Union County Bio-Blitz will be conducted in two sessions over a two-day period in Warinanco Park, also known as the “Central Park of Union County.”

“Bio-Blitz is a wonderful opportunity to participate in environmental stewardship,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “It is our signature event for raising public awareness about nature conservation in our County parks, and it could not happen without scores of volunteer researchers who lend their time to the effort each year.”

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One area of focus for this year’s Bio-Blitz will be a stream daylighting project. The project dates back several years ago, when an underground piped stream in Warinanco Park was rehabilitated and exposed to the open air.

“Volunteers with the Union County Adopt-a-Park program spent many chilly hours over the winter to improve the habitat in and around the stream bed,” said Vice Chairman Sergio Granados, who is the Freeholder liaison to the Union County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “We are looking forward to cataloging the fruits of their labor during Bio-Blitz 2017.”

Scientists and naturalists are needed to help sample, observe, identify, and record hundreds of plant and animal species, including fungi and insects.

The first session is scheduled for Friday, June 16 from 5:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.  The second session is scheduled for Saturday, June 17 from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Professional scientists, naturalists and knowledgeable amateurs can register online to join a field team or perform other volunteer activities at the Bio-Blitz web page, ucnj.org/bio-blitz

The registration deadline is June 1 but participating team members and volunteers are advised to sign up early.

Bio-Blitz is also open for public observation throughout the event.

Warinanco also showcases several of the County’s conservation initiatives. In addition to the stream daylighting project, a shoreline restoration project around the park’s centerpiece lake has created an inviting habitat for diverse species.

The restoration project involved replacing mowed areas at the water’s edge with rocks and native plantings. Visitors can enjoy strolling past a generous display of pollinator-friendly wildflowers and native grasses along the western shore during the spring, summer and early fall.

The Chatfield Garden, formerly reserved for tulips, was recently replanted with pollinator-friendly perennials.

For more information about volunteering for Bio-Blitz 2017, contact Betty Ann Kelly, Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, at bkelly@ucnj.org.

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