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Teens Spruce up Union County’s “Floating Wetlands” in Watchung Reservation

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MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - A group of student volunteers took to the water to help pitch in for the environment. As part of Union County’s Adopt-a-Park Program, earlier this fall the group rowed out to spruce up a “floating wetlands” demonstration project at Surprise Lake in the county’s Watchung Reservation, and they also helped repair a section of trail.

“The wetlands project shows how native plants can provide natural filtration for pollutants that enter the lake. It also contributes to biodiversity and provides sustenance for hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “Thanks to these volunteers, the project can continue to inform our efforts to foster a healthy environment in our County parks.”

The volunteer group consisted of teens participating in the Mitzvah Mania youth community service program of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey.

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The wetlands project consists of two floating islands planted with swamp loosestrife, cardinal flower, blue flag iris, swamp hibiscus and other native species. Working from a rowboat, the students removed debris from the islands and replaced plants that were dead or missing.

“Native plants that like to get their ‘feet’ wet are ideal for natural filtration, but they don’t thrive when planted in the bed of the lake,” explained Bergen. “By floating them in pots on the surface, we allow the roots to grow in the water.”

The floating wetlands project in Lake Surprise was funded through the Union County Adopt-a-Park program. Three addition lakes and ponds in County parks are slated to receive floating wetlands.

Any individual or group can volunteer with Adopt-a-Park. Union County has 36 parks totaling almost 6,200 acres, and there are many ways to help out. To find out how to volunteer, and to learn more about Union County’s environmental programs and activities, visit The Green Connection at ucnj.org/green-connection.

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

Connect with Union County on social media.

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