Groundwork Elizabeth and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Celebrate Urban Community Partnership

Elizabeth, N.J., September 24, 2019---At 10:00 a.m., September 24th, at Peterstown Community Center, Palmer Street in Elizabeth, Groundwork Elizabeth and the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge hosted a joint community event where they announced their designation as an ongoing Urban Community Partnership.

Officials say the partnership formalizes their shared commitment to raising awareness of ongoing conservation efforts which are taking place both in Elizabeth and at the Great Swamp.

The Urban Partnership program was developed with the input from urban communities to give the USFWS system a better was to connect with urban audiences where conservation and recreation in natural areas are more rare according to officials.

Seniors from the Center planted seasonal plants in raised beds as part of the activities.

Attending were Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Bette Jane Kowalski Chair of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Joseph Cryan, State Senator for the 20th Legislative District NJ, Executive Director of Groundwork Jonathan Phillips, Groundwork staff and youth participants, Sharon Marino Regional Chief DOI Region 1 USFWS, Graham Taylor, Refuges Program Supervisor North Region 1, Lia McLaughlin, Deputy Refuge Manager of the Great Swamp, Mike Horne, Project Leader Great Swamp, Angelina Yost, National Urban Coordinator for USFWS, other staff from the USFWS Northeast Region, Friends of the Great Swamp, staff and seniors from the Peterstown Community Center, City Council members Manny Grova and Pat Perkins Auguste, and other Elizabeth community members. Senator Cory Booker, Senator Robert Menendez, and Congressman Albio Sires were unable to make the event, but expressed their support for the designation.

A Refuge is a designation for certain protected areas of the United States managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is considered urban if it is within 25 miles of a population of 250,000 or more.

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is 20 miles from Elizabeth, and offers a close by space for hands on experiences for visitors to work and learn about conservation.

Groundwork and the Great Swamp are engaged in the creation of 3 important outdoor conservation destinations within the community, the Peterstown Nature Demonstration Center, the Elizabeth River trail system, and the Phil Rizzuto Interpretive outdoor education Center, and are continuing to work on programs that bring more urban visitors to the Great Swamp.

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