BERKELEY HEIGHTS – Beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 10, Union County will be offering an opportunity for people to get up-close and personal with wildlife in their own “backyard” during Bio-Blitz 2011.
The event will have teams of plant and wildlife specialists, plus amateur naturalists, scouring a study site that includes sections of Union County’s Passaic River Parkway in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Summit in search of plants and animals over a 24-hour period ending at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 11.
To register as a volunteer or to receive a brochure and application, call 1-908-789-3683. When calling, specify your level of experience and team preference.
Plant, fungi, insect, fish, bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile, and water monitoring experts (along with amateur naturalists) are needed to collect and identify species from the three sections of parkland. Teams will return to Bio-Blitz Central, an outdoor, tented field lab and exhibit space near River Road and Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights to sort and count what they find.
Nature-related programs will be offered free to all throughout the event. They will include evening programs from 6 – 11 p.m. on Friday, and daytime programs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Shuttles will be available to get participants to and from program sites. Programs will include River & Stream Life; Owl Prowl; Wild Edibles Walk; Fungi Foray; Mammal Tracking; Morning Bird Walk, and more. Bio-Blitz Bingo will give younger “scientists” an opportunity to record their findings and enter a drawing to win nature-related prizes.
The primary purpose of the Bio-Blitz is to gain a “snapshot” of the biodiversity (or richness of species) in the 298 – acre Passaic River Parkway. Another important goal of the event is to raise public awareness of the importance of parkland as wildlife habitat and outdoor classrooms.
Although the study site is surrounded by suburban development, it is home to many plants and animals. The Passaic River Parkway, acquired by Union County in the 1960s, boasts some excellent floodplain, stream, river, meadow and woodland habitat. Greenways provide valuable habitat, and act as a stopover and corridor for migratory and resident wildlife, including red tail hawks, owls, great egrets, great blue herons, coyotes, fox, and much more.
Bio-Blitz 2011 is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, Kean University and the Rahway River Association, with partial funding provided by PSE&G.
Team volunteers will be fed and “watered” thanks to donations from Whole Foods, Starbucks, New Jersey American Water, and ShopRite. Additional donations will be provided by the Rahway River Association, Home Depot, Halls Garden Center, M721 Organics, Back2Tap and Wild Birds Unlimited.
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