Union County residents interested helping to conserve local natural habitats can join the county's new Watchung Reservation Invasive Plant Strike Force.
"Our Strike Force volunteers will help create a more welcoming, healthy habitat for native wildlife including birds, butterflies and other valuable pollinators," said Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. "Volunteering in our County parks is a very satisfying way to give back to the community and make a real impact on our local environment."
The Watchung Reservation is Union County's largest park and nature conservation area. Members of the Strike Force will be trained to identify and eliminate invasive species that have been encroaching into the park. Invasive plant species are not challenged by natural foragers or competitors. As they spread, they displace other plants. Invasive species have a destructive ripple effect that displaces wildlife as well as other plants.
The Strike Force training is offered through the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation in partnership with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The training session will take place on Sunday, Oct. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Trailside Nature and Science Center, located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Light refreshments will be provided.
The session will be led by Michael Van Clef, stewardship director for Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space and a co-founder of the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team. Participants will learn about the problem of invasive species, and learn how to identify the biggest and newest offenders. They will learn monitoring and eradication methods through hands-on demonstrations. Volunteers who sign up for the Strike Force will be assigned specific sections of the Watchung Reservation to monitor. The training session is free but registration is required online at tinyurl.com/y9xzlezr.