UNION COUNTY, NJ — With spring around the corner, it’s time to enjoy the county’s parks and tell officials what you think would make these open spaces better. 

The Union County Parks and Recreation Department is seeking feedback by April 1 on the master plan that will guide the county’s 6,200-acre park system for the next 10 years. 

Union County Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella said the public’s input on the plan will “set the roadmap for future projects” at a Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this year. 

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The county encourages residents to share their thoughts on programming, recreational activities, modernization or any other topic related to the parks by emailing UCParks2020@ucnj.org or writing to the department at 10 Elizabethtown Plaza, Elizabeth, NJ, 07202. 

Residents can also comment during virtual Board of County Commissioners meetings, as Ann DeCamp of Scotch Plains did last Thursday. DeCamp said the master plan should protect the Watchung Reservation with an intense invasive species eradication program.

At 2,200 acres, the Watchung Reservation is the largest nature reserve in Union County. It is often referred to as the “crown jewel” of the county’s park system. 

DeCamp said the reservation is overrun with plants that crowd out native species and provide no sustenance for wildlife. 

“In the early spring before other plants emerge, the reservation is carpeted with tick-harboring Japanese barberry. Later in the year we see Japanese knotweed advancing ever more, year after year,” DeCamp said. “We must remediate this problem.”

More resources are also needed to improve the trails in the reservation, according to DeCamp. “While we treasure them, having a few volunteers is barely making a dent,” she said. 

Board of County Commissioners meetings are held twice per month, and the next meeting is scheduled for March 25. The meetings are live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page.

To comment at a meeting via voice or video, members of the public must email the Clerk of the Board at jpellettiere@ucnj.org no later than noon of the corresponding meeting date.