Press release from The North Carolina Arboretum:
Western North Carolina is one of three regions in the state competing in the 2019 City Nature Challenge, a global citizen-science competition to be held April 26 – April 29. Throughout the four-day event, WNC residents are encouraged to get outside and celebrate their region’s biodiversity by taking photos of plants and animals found in their communities and uploading them to iNaturalist, a mobile application featuring images of nature taken by citizens from around the world. Participating cities or regions who make the most observations of nature, find the most species and engage the most people will be named the winner of the 2019 City Nature Challenge and support scientific research worldwide.
As part of the City Nature Challenge, several WNC organizations will host events over the weekend to encourage participation and assist with iNaturalist training. In addition, the WNC Nature Center and Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be designated City Nature Challenge observation spots for the general public and for private groups. Events include:
Friday, April 26
· Wildflower Hike at the Buckeye Recreation Center on Beech Mountain
Saturday, April 27
· Cradle Community Bioblitz at The Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest
· Mountain Science Expo Bioblitz at The North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville
· Junior Ranger Program at Grandfather Mountain
Sunday, April 28
· Junior Ranger Program at Grandfather Mountain.
“Western North Carolina is known for its amazing biodiversity and incredible wildlife,” shared Jonathan Marchal, youth education manager at The North Carolina Arboretum and regional organizer for City Nature Challenge WNC. “The City Nature Challenge is a great way for people to get outside and discover what’s living in their own backyard, park or nearby natural area while also helping the scientific community. Plus, who doesn’t love a friendly competition?”
To participate, WNC residents 13 or older are encouraged to download the free iNaturalist app, join the City Nature Challenge WNC project, and then get outside and take pictures of nature. Children 12 or younger can submit their photographs to the ecoEXPLORE website, a K-8 citizen science program developed by the Arboretum, which will also be counted towards the region’s tally.
“Anyone can participate with this challenge,” said Marchal. “From a picture of a tree on your street to a squirrel perched on your porch, anything alive and wild counts.” Once photographs are uploaded, other online users in the iNaturalist community, including scientists, will help users identify unnamed species. “We really just want folks to discover and appreciate the vast amount of nature that is around them,” continued Marchal.
Launched in 2016 and organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the City Nature Challenge started out as a regional event between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Since then, it has grown to include more than 170 cities with more than 441,000 observations made. Within the state of North Carolina, Western North Carolina will be competing against the Charlotte metro area and the Triangle.
For more information on the City Nature Challenge and details on events, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/286819975574413/or https://www.ncarboretum.org/event/city-nature-challenge-wnc/.