WILD Outdoor Expo coming to Jackson

Ever thought about rock climbing, bass or fly fishing, or maybe trap shooting, kayaking, archery, birding or camping, but not quite sure where to start? The state Department of Environmental Protection’s WILD Outdoor Expo is a place to begin.

This third annual expo, to be held on Sept. 15-16 at the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township, will offer classes, lessons, demonstrations and exhibits on a host of outdoor activities.

“The expo is a great way for everyone, whether they are avid outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen or novice adventurers, to experience the many affordable and exciting outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in New Jersey,” said Rich Boornazian, DEP Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. “It is designed to build appreciation for the state’s bountiful natural resources, and encourage visitors to get outdoors and enjoy the superb opportunities found in New Jersey’s parks and wildlife management areas.”

According to a press release, the WILD Outdoor Expo is a one-stop information and demonstration event where visitors can learn about and try outdoor adventure activities. Expo attendees will be able to develop their compass skills on an “orienteering treasure hunt” or participate in geocaching workshops. There will also be plenty of hands-on fun for families, including WILD crafts, and demonstrations about birds of prey and snakes of New Jersey. A centerpiece of the expo this year will be the Wyland Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience. This 1,000-square-foot interactive exhibit on wheels is dedicated to demonstrating the many ways water shapes people’s lives, according to the press release. The exhibit uses models to explore the nature of watersheds and the movement of water — via rain over a city landscape, a running river, computer model simulations, and a 40-person multi-sensory theater.

The popular “Hog Trough” will engage visitors and gets anglers excited about fishing opportunities in New Jersey. This giant mobile fishing tank holds thousands of gallons of water and will be loaded with monster trout and warm water game fish from the Pequest and Hackettstown state fish hatcheries.

More than 100 conservation, environmental and recreation exhibits, demonstrations and seminars are planned about the state’s air, water, soil, flora and fauna, and history. A host of experts will be on hand to provide information on an array of topics from hunting to nature photography to scuba diving in New Jersey.

The expo also features an outdoor supply flea market for getting or resupplying the gear needed for outdoor recreation. Food will be available from vendors, or guests may bring their own.

The expo is sponsored by the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, Division of Parks and Forestry, and Green Acres Program, as well as the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. It will be held rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Admission and parking are free. Most activities are free, except for a few that are offered for a modest fee. Some activities require pre-registration.

For directions to the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township and more information, including a video tour of the 2011 Expo and a complete listing of 2012 programs, visit the website www.wildoutdoorexpo.com.