UNION COUNTY – As the fall recreation season gets under way in Union County parks, the Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds visitors that they can help pitch in to help preserve important natural habitats.
“In this densely developed region, the Union County park system is barely short of a miracle,” said Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter. “Generations of Union County residents have worked to build and preserve this unique natural resource and now it’s up to us to do our part, too.”
The Union County park system was established in the 1920’s with 2,000 acres in donated land. Along with space for organized sports and other activities, the original parks were designed to preserve key natural habitats along the County’s many waterways.
The twin goals of public recreation and habitat conservation have continued into the present.
Today, the Union County park system totals 36 distinct parks that span more than 6,700 acres. The parks are home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, and they play an important role in bird migration across the American continents as part of the Atlantic Flyway migratory route.
Each year, hundreds of Union County residents and visitors volunteer in the park system on habitat improvement projects, including groups hosted by the Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations as well as local schools and businesses.
A number of county ordinances are designed to help conserve habitat in the park system. Among the most important areas of concern are:
- Staying on marked trails helps to prevent soil erosion, in addition to preserving the forest understory.
- Disposing of trash in the cans provided helps to prevent windblown litter. Cans are emptied regularly but in the event they are full, trash should be carried out rather than left in the open.
- Picking up after dogs helps to reduce the potential for dog waste to leach into waterways, a known threat to water quality.
- Keeping dogs on a leash helps to prevent damage to sensitive habitats, especially around shorelines, while reducing incidents of injury or death to wildlife.
- Refraining from feeding Canada geese is similarly important, as an overpopulation of these large waterfowl can quickly overwhelm other species and harm water quality.
To find out more about the Union County park system, visit ucnj.org/parks.
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