02 Mar An Adventure in Every Acre
A Species Inventory – Past, Present, Future
For many decades, Naturalists stationed at the various parks and preserves throughout the city have catalogued and recorded the species residing within our greenspaces. These notes were often made on whatever material was handy. A scrap of paper, a page of a book, notes in a well-worn field guide. With the arrival of spring, they would seek out the date of the first bloom for the various species of wildflowers. They would record the arrival of the spring migrants as they made their way north and noted their nesting locations. They watched as species, long since absent from our area, slowly made their return to our region.
This work was often aided by what we would call today, citizen scientists, or nature enthusiasts, who had as much passion for recording their observations as they did for the natural world. In the past, they carried their trusty field guides, today they use apps, like iNaturalist, to help them catalog and record their finds. Over time, rare and exciting discoveries were made. The endangered Cave Salamander residing within our parks, species of wildflowers, long since thought lost, persisting in a forgotten corner and the Bald Eagle, now more commonly seen along our river valleys.
This long tradition of work in documenting the natural world continues, from the earliest work of local naturalists and botanist, such as John James Audubon, Daniel Drake and E. Lucy Braun, to the family that heads out to their favorite park. This work helps us understand not only what we have lost, but what we have preserved and maintained within our parks and preserves.
Local nature organizations are teaming up to participate in the international 2021 City Nature Challenge! This BioBlitz, also known as Citizen Science, encourages the public to help discover, identify and catalog plants and animals in the region. Locally, the City Nature Challenge is an exciting opportunity for all to learn more about biodiversity in our community. It is also a chance for us to come together to compete for bragging rights with other cities across the world in participation, nature observations and species found.
The event utilizes the free iNaturalist platform (web and app) to record environmental data. From April 30 through May 3, participants can log photos of plants and animals they see anywhere in nature. From May 4 through May 9, all the information gathered will be identified and saved to a database. The information collected will be very helpful in community programming and education, assisting in controlling invasive species and help prioritize natural areas in need of further preservation efforts.
Great Parks and Cincinnati Parks are thrilled to partner with excellent organizations like the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Civic Garden Center, Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, among many others, to showcase globally the love for natural the Cincinnati community has by you becoming Citizen Scientist.
How to Get Started
Learn more about participating in the 2021 City Nature Challenge and download the iNaturalist app, visit: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2021-cincinnati-hamilton-county.
Another excellent resource is the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Field Guides and Backyard Wildlife.
Written by: Michael George, Naturalist and Great Parks Staff
Michael George, is a Naturalist with Cincinnati Parks nature education division Explore Nature! and Center Director at Trailside Nature Center. As an outdoor educator, he has worked with scores of children that he has introduced to the natural world during school visits and summer camps. Michael holds a Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Cincinnati, an Associates degree in Horticulture from Ohio State, and certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association for Interpretation. In his spare time he is an avid hiker, outdoor enthusiast and enjoys gardening and sharing the natural world with his daughter.