Sunday, December 05, 2010

Watchung Reservation

Over Thanksgiving break I was visiting family near Summit New Jersey. After braving the Black Friday mobs for a few hours I took the opportunity to visit Watchung Reservation, a two-thousand acre park managed by Union County. Part of the park is crossed by Interstate 78.

The park has a mixture of hiking trails, horse riding trails, playgrounds, and other resources. In the late afternoon I hiked around Lake Surprise, a man-made narrow lake, about a mile long. Here are pictures of the lake, including the dam:

Follow this link for a tourist map of the park and other sources of information. I also made a map on Flickr of the lake site I visited.

From a natural resources management point of view it was fascinating to see some of the issues in this park. It gets very heavy use as it is completely surrounded by residential and commercial areas. I saw quite a few people enjoying the lake, even though it was a cold, cloudy day. There are a lot of wildlife resources. I saw swans, ducks, and canada geese in the lake. I know the area is full of deer, too.

I noticed that there are three wildlife crossings on Interstate 78 leading into the park. One of the sources I found mentioned the completion of 78 had been held up for a long time by the park until the State of New Jersey built these bridges. Apparently they haven't been successful. It does look odd seeing a forested bridge across the highway. 

I wondered, too how the park could be maintained in these difficult economic times. New Jersey is having more financial difficulties than other states. How can the county government find the resources to maintain the park. I hope they find a way to keep this important resource going.