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U.S. Parks ‘Blitzed’ in Celebration of Biodiversity Across America

It’s #BioBlitz2016 — are you ready?

More than a hundred U.S. national parks and partner sites are hosting a nationwide BioBlitz across America this weekend.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in the National Parks BioBlitz, the tenth in a series of BioBlitzes hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) and the National Geographic Society.  Since 2007, as part of the run-up to this year’s NPS Centennial, the two organizations have collaborated to host annual BioBlitzes in different national parks close to major urban areas.

“From northern leopard frogs to eastern red bats, America’s national parks are home to incredible biodiversity,” the two institutions said in a news release this week.

“This free public event at more than 100 national parks and partner sites across the United States will bring together scientists, naturalists, students, and families to explore and celebrate biodiversity.”

“On May 20 and 21, the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society will team up for a nationwide National Parks BioBlitz, a fast-paced expedition to discover and document the species that thrive in national parks. Sponsored by American Express, this free public event at more than 100 national parks and partner sites across the United States will bring together scientists, naturalists, students, and families to explore and celebrate biodiversity.”

A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. At a BioBlitz, biologists, teachers, and other community members work together to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms that live in a place. Watch the video below to learn more about what a BioBlitz is all about:

“With our changing climate battering natural ecosystems, national parks are critical reserves of biodiversity,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Having better information about biodiversity in parks helps us better recognize impending threats, and helps park managers to preserve our living resources. This is especially important as we prepare for our second century of stewardship of these extraordinary places.  We all have a role in stewardship. The National Parks BioBlitz events are fun ways for kids and families to be stewards and citizen scientists, helping us discover and document the variety of life in national parks. BioBlitz is also a great way to find your park during the National Park Service Centennial.”

First Nationwide BioBlitz

“Nine years ago at the first National Parks BioBlitz in Rock Creek Park, we had about 1,000 people documenting species on paper,” said National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary Knell. “This year, for the National Park Service Centennial, tens of thousands of people will join forces at more than 100 parks for the first nationwide BioBlitz. This massive effort to uncover the amazing natural resources in our parks dovetails with National Geographic’s longtime commitment to exploring and protecting our planet.”

“American Express is committed to serving and preserving our nation’s parks and public lands,” said American Express Foundation President Timothy J. McClimon. “As we gear up for the 2016 National Park Service centennial, we are excited to sponsor BioBlitz and empower volunteers across the country to discover and celebrate the wealth of biodiversity in our national parks.”

Washington’s National Mall at BioBlitz Hub

PrintThe hub of the National Parks BioBlitz will be on the National Mall in DC, which will host a concurrent two-day Biodiversity Festival at Constitution Gardens featuring hands-on science exhibits, food and art, yoga classes and family-friendly entertainment and activities. Constitution Gardens will also serve as base camp for the National Parks BioBlitz-Washington, D.C., and a digital connection to the more than 100 BioBlitz and biodiversity events taking place at national parks across the country that weekend. The festival will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.May 20-21, 2016, with a special evening of science fun planned for Fridaynight.

Other examples of BioBlitz activities in parks across the U.S. include:

  • First State National Historical Park in Delaware is partnering extensively with The Nature Conservancy for its first BioBlitz. As one of the newest parks in the system, First State is hoping to get a baseline species inventory and increase awareness of park’s presence in the community.
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio is highlighting nearly 50 years of restoration of the “river that burned.”  Events will tie in with Farmer’s Market in the park, and there will be inventorying programs designed specifically for autistic students as well as an iNaturalist “scavenger hunt.”
  • Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico will focus on a theme of “Recovery and Change” in the biodiversity of the park after several major fires and floods.  The park will also host a Biodiversity Fiesta and highlight Pueblo and Hispanic cultures.
  • Channel Islands National Park in southern California is broadcasting a live interactive dive with renowned oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer Sylvia Earle with support from the National Park Trust. The public will be able to follow their exploration of the one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world, the giant kelp forest, through a live video feed.

Hashtags

National parks and participating partners are sharing their BioBlitz activities via social media, using the hashtags #BioBlitz2016 and #FindYourPark.  More information about the National Parks BioBlitz and an interactive map to find a BioBlitz near you is available at natgeo.org/bioblitz  and on the National Park Service website.

American Express is a national sponsor of the National Parks BioBlitz and a premier partner of the 2016 National Park Service centennial. To learn more, visit amex.co/goparks

This blog post was prepared from a press release issued by the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society. “Biodiversity is variety of life on our planet, including all living creatures, their habitats, biological processes, and the connections between these things.  It is fundamental to life as we know it on Earth: multitudes of wild species are part of natural systems that regulate climate, air quality, and other basic building blocks of life on our planet,” the two institutions said in the release.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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