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Union County’s 8th Annual Bio-Blitz

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 Rahway River Parkway Cranford NJ  See map

Calling all bird watchers, frog fanciers, fish aficionados and nature lovers of all varieties!  Here’s your chance to find the answer to that age-old question:  “What’s going on out there?”  From Friday evening, June 8, through Saturday evening, June 9, 2012 Union County offers nature lovers of all ages the opportunity to get up-close and personal with wildlife in their own “backyard” during Bio-Blitz 2012.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on June 8, the annual outdoor event will organize teams of volunteer plant and wildlife specialists (and young amateurs) to scour three sections of Union County’s Rahway River Parkway in Rahway, Clark, Winfield Park and Cranford in search of wildlife over a 24-hour period.

“Although the Rahway River Parkway is surrounded by suburban development, it is a perfect example of how green spaces can provide a haven for people and wildlife,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella. “The Bio-Blitz is a great opportunity for the community to learn more about the natural places that make Union County a special place to live.”

The primary purpose of Bio-Blitz 2012 is to gain a “snapshot” of the biodiversity in the 384-acre Rahway River Parkway. Another important goal of the event is to raise public awareness of the importance of parkland as wildlife habitat and outdoor classrooms.

An outdoor, tented field lab and exhibit space in Rahway River Park, off St. Georges Avenue in Rahway, will serve as a base of operations. Plant, fungi, insect, fish, bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile teams, and water monitors (along with amateur naturalists) will collect and identify species from three sections of parkland.

Free nature-related programs for all ages will be offered throughout the event, including evening programs from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, June 8; and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 9.  Free shuttle buses will be available to get participants to and from program sites. Programs will include: River & Lake Sampling; Owl Prowl; Wild Edible Plant Walk; Fungi Foray; Early Morning Birding, and more.

Bio-Blitz Bingo will offer younger “scientists” an opportunity to record their findings and enter a drawing to win nature-related prizes.  A Junior Scientist tent will have young naturalists interacting with hands-on activities related to the natural environment.  Union County’s Trailside Nature & Science Center staff also will be on-hand to offer guided walks and provide live animal exhibits. 

Bio-Blitz 2012 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.

For more information or to receive a brochure, call 908-789-3683 and leave your email address.  Brochures also will be available at Trailside Nature & Science Center at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.  All are welcome.

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