For years I’ve mentioned that even people who live in the city can get outside to enjoy nature. Heck! People in metro areas need to get outdoors. It’s amazing what you can find if you set your mind to it.
After moving from rural Colorado to San Diego, I learned that the city isn’t all concrete. There are open spaces, parks, ponds and other areas that we can go to enjoy God’s great creation. With the help of iNaturalist, and thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for sharing the Get Outdoors Global City Challenge, you can get outside and discover what nature has to offer in your area.
If you follow me on my social media outlets, you may have seen images of plants, bugs and animals. Some of those pictures come with a great description of what I’ve shared. Those details are not because I’m a biologist or botanist but rather due to the help of some of my favorite apps.
One of my favorite apps for discovering and learning about nature is iNaturalist. A couple of other great nature apps are Picture This and the Seek app, which is by iNaturalist. Some of these have subscription fees and some don’t, but I do enjoy how they help me learn and connect further with the great outdoors.
Learn more about the City Nature Challenge in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife press release below. (I’ve clipped portions of this article. To read the full release, CLICK HERE.)
City Nature Challenge 2020 is an international effort to find and document plants and wildlife across the globe.
DENVER – From April 24 through 27, Colorado residents are encouraged to go outside in their neighborhood to photograph and identify plants and animals using the free iNaturalist app as part of a global initiative called the City Nature Challenge.
City Nature Challenge 2020 is an international effort to find and document plants and wildlife across the globe. Cities are encouraging their citizens to get outside in whatever way is safe for each region and document the plants and animals in their surroundings. The City Nature Challenge is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
The City Nature Challenge and COVID-19
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Nature Challenge has made some modifications to the annual event to help keep organizers and participants safe. Although it has been promoted as a friendly competition in previous years, this year it’s about embracing the healing power of nature. Participants should safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary. Participants are urged to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by your local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health is of utmost priority.
Citizen Science and the iNaturalist app
To participate in this collaborative effort, download the free iNaturalist app, join the project, then get outside and start taking pictures of nature around you. By participating, you will be embracing the healing power of nature while also contributing crucial data about Colorado’s unique biodiversity. Scientists can then use this information to make important decisions about how to protect and improve Colorado’s nature.
The iNaturalist app that people use to identify species during the City Nature Challenge has been part of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s efforts to engage citizen scientists over the past few years.
In just under four years, the app has documented more than 91,000 observations of nature in Colorado’s 41 state parks. The new technology is helping CPW biologists track the wildlife resources, and in some cases, even contributing toward furthering important research.
From April 28 – May 3, users who identify photos of wildlife down to the species level will count toward the point tally.
Colorado nonprofits and government agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, the WILD Foundation, MetroDNA, Denver Botanical Gardens, and Denver Audubon all see the value in this effort to connect people to their environment and reap the benefits of crowd-sourced citizen science.
More information on the City Nature Challenge is available at: https://citynaturechallenge.org.
For those interested in the Denver-Boulder Metro area: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-denver-boulder-metro-area
For those interested in the Colorado Springs area: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-colorado-springs
For those interested in the Fort Collins/Northern Colorado area: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-northern-colorado
Stats from last year:
Boulder-Denver Metro Area 2019:
Total observations: 6,374
Total observers: 433
Species identified: 955
Total observations: 963,000+
Total observers: 35,000+
Species identified: 31,000+
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, keynote speaker, and a range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to outdoors, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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