Bio-Blitz 2015 Explores the Secret Life of Watchung Reservation

Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski (far r.) meets some of the local wildlife with naturalists and a young visitor. Turtles are among the hundreds of different animals and plants that populate Union County parks, many of which are usually hidden from view.  Credits: County of Union, NJ


ELIZABETH, NJ -- How many different plant and animal species populate Union County’s Watchung Reservation? The answer will be forthcoming next month, when 150 volunteer scientists and naturalists comb through forests, fields, and waterways for Bio-Blitz, an annual survey of wildlife in County parks. Nature fans of all ages are invited to observe the work and enjoy free hands-on activities during the 24-hour, ‘round-the-clock celebration of local flora and fauna, including games, prizes and giveaways.

Bio-Blitz 2015 begins at the Watchung Reservation at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 12, and wraps up at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 13.

“Watchung Reservation is home to hundreds of plant and animal species, and many of them are hidden away from view, said Union County Freeholder Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh. “This is a rare chance to explore the secret life of our Union County parks with the experts, so I encourage everyone to stop by and join us at ‘Bio-Blitz Central’ in June.”

Sign Up for E-News

Bio-Blitz Central is the staging area for the survey teams, public activities and exhibits. It will be located behind the old museum on the grounds of the Trailside Nature & Science Center in the Watchung Reservation, 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside, where free parking is available.

“This year we are offering new ‘trending topics’ activities like geocaching and meditation walks, along with traditional Bio-Blitz favorites such as exhibits of live fish, snakes and turtles, the hands-on tree table, the hawk and owl demonstration, and our Junior Scientist tent for youngsters,” said Freeholder Sergio Granados, the Freeholder Board’s liaison to the Department of Parks and Recreation. “Come and explore our rich natural heritage with your family and friends.”

Exhibits at Bio-Blitz Central are open for public view throughout the event. Scheduled activities for the public kick off at 5:00 p.m. on Friday with a wild edible walk, followed by a visit to a baiting station to identify animal tracks, a “Photo-Blitz” nature photography workshop, and a “sitting circle” listening to nature’s twilight concert. After dark, the fun continues with the “owl prowl,” a late-night star watch, and a midnight insect-trapping session.

On Saturday, visitors can join naturalists on a stream-sampling expedition, an electro-fishing demonstration, a hunt for spore-bearing plants and a nearby “Mini-Blitz” among other activities. The day starts with an early morning bird walk at 7:00 a.m. and activities continue throughout the morning and afternoon, until 5:00 p.m.

New this year, Bio-Blitz 2015 features a geocaching demonstration from the organization Northern New Jersey Cachers and a guided “Yoga labyrinth walk” by SKY Yoga of Fanwood. Friday’s nature photography workshop is also new.

The all-volunteer Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County will be on hand Saturday starting at 11:00 a.m., to provide expert gardening advice along with tours of the Demonstration Garden. They will also offer a free bird feeder craft activity for youngsters.

Along with the immersive nature experience, Bio-Blitz 2015 will provide visitors with a chance to win prizes including an exclusive guided tour of the Pine Barrens by noted ecologist Dr. Emil Devito of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. The tour is donated by the Rahway River Watershed Association, and it will take place on a date to be arranged with the prizewinner.

Other free giveaways are also available from exhibitors, and visitors to the Junior Scientist tent can get a free poster and play “Bio-Blitz Bingo.”

All Bio-Blitz activities are free and open on a walk-in basis. Visitors are asked to sign up for scheduled activities at the Info Tent when they arrive at Bio-Blitz Central, and to be aware of recommended age groups for some of the activities. 

Bio-Blitz is made possible by the Freeholder Board with many generous contributions from volunteer scientists and support staff, and local businesses and organizations including Shoprite of Clark, Starbucks of Westfield, Whole Foods of Union, Jenkinson’s Aquarium of Point Pleasant, the Staten Island Zoo, the Rahway River Watershed Association, Wild Birds Unlimited of Scotch Plains, BR Environmental, XAdmins graphic arts, SKY Yoga of Fanwood, Tony and Natalie Gregorio of Elizabeth, and Toadshade Nursery.

For more information about free public activities at Bio-Blitz 2015, visit

Information to register as an exhibitor or an expert survey team member is also available at (the registration deadline is June 4).

Connect with Union County on social media.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Sat, April 28, 3:00 PM

Abraham Clark High School - Auditorium, Roselle

Roselle's First Circle of Sisters Expo Community ...

Sat, April 28, 7:00 PM

Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield Township

YP Honors: The Royal Ball 2018

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Giving Back Other

Sat, May 5, 12:00 PM

Kenilworth VFW, Kenilworth

Prize Bingo Fundraiser for the Union County ...


Lifelong Elizabeth and Elizabeth Police to Hold  “Walking Safety ” Event

April 18, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Lifelong Elizabeth Program, under Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, will be holding another “Walking Safety Presentation” for Elizabeth residents on Thursday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to Noon, at the Elizabeth Public Library at 11 South Broad Street.

Elizabeth Police Department Sergeant Brian Clancy will provide participants with tips on walking safely and the ...

Countywide Free Scrap Metal Recycling Event to be Held in Rahway and Cranford

UNION COUNTY, NJ - A free Countywide scrap metal recycling event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 21 in Rahway and Cranford.  

A wide variety of metal goods, from household appliances to gutters and sheds, are included in the program.

“This countywide program helps to fill a service gap in some Union County municipalities that currently have no pickup for scrap ...

Westfield Firefighters Extinguish Small Blaze at Rock 'n' Joe's

April 15, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ - A small electrical fire started around noon at Rock 'n' Joe's on Prospect Street on Saturday.

According to Deputy Chief Anthony Tiller, the fire was caused by an electrical shortage in wires in the ceiling, sending smoke into the neighboring businesses on both sides.

“It created a smoke condition," Tiller said. "Once we located the fire, we ...

Nightmare Commute for Raritan Valley Line Commuters Monday

April 17, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Raritan Valley Line commuters spent more than three hours trying to make their way home from New York City on Monday following the breakdown of a train near Union Station during rush hour.

At 9:47 p.m., NJT tweeted:

Raritan Valley Line westbound train service is operating on or close to schedule following an earlier disabled NJ Transit train near Union ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Paterson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. The April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude that ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Sharing Strength, Giving Back: Become a Volunteer Advocate for Victims of Sexual Violence

April 23, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that openings are still available in the upcoming training series for Volunteer Advocates for victims of sexual violence. The sessions are scheduled twice weekly beginning on Tuesday, May 1 and continuing until Thursday, June 14.

The training is free. No previous experience in counseling is required. Volunteer Advocates work ...