UNION COUNTY, NJ — In cooperation with The Smithsonian, Columbia University and the University of Maryland, Union County Parks has designed a new signage system that connects to a virtual field guide so that it is possible to learn about a tree, from how it propagates to the region it inhabits, with a click of the phone.
The first of these new generation signs was installed two years ago in Lenape Park. In addition to Echo Lake, the tree stewards recently finished Nomahegan Park and plan to install a third trail this year at Briant Park.
Many of the signs in Nomahegan Park in Cranford are on a trail that is part of the East Coast Greenway, a 2,950-mile lowland Appalachian Trail from Maine to Florida that weaves through nearly every major city along the East Coast.
The signs in Echo Lake Park in Mountainside are located on a trail that connects Echo Lake to the Route 22 pedestrian overpass and the New Providence Road greenway that leads to the southern edge of the Watchung Reservation.
The tree sign identification is an offshoot of the Master Tree Stewards’ ongoing educational program. Volunteers visit youngsters in fourth grade classrooms to teach them about trees and to appreciate the importance of trees to the environment.
To join the tree steward program, contact the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County at https://njaes.rutgers.edu/county/quickinfo.asp?Union.