National Park Service and National Geographic Society to host BioBlitz and Biodiversity Festival in Greater Washington National Parks

Explore the Wild Side of Your National Parks!

From northern leopard frogs to eastern red bats, Greater Washington’s national parks are home to incredible biodiversity. Join the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society on May 20-21 for BioBlitz, a fast-paced expedition to discover and document the species that thrive in 13 nearby national parks. This free public event, nationally sponsored by American Express, will bring together more than 200 leading scientists and naturalists, more than 2,600 students and even more friends, families and future scientists to explore and celebrate biodiversity.Print

The 2016 National Parks BioBlitz is the culmination of a 10-year series of BioBlitzes co-hosted by the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society at different national parks across the country, leading up the centennial of the National Park Service. The first in the series took place at Rock Creek Park in 2007. Other BioBlitz locations have included Biscayne National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. This year, 13 parks in Greater Washington and more than 100 national parks across the country will host BioBlitz events. A longtime partner of the National Park Service, the National Geographic Society helped draft legislation to establish the NPS in 1916. The Society has given many grants to create and sustain national parks across the United States, and has extensively covered the parks in its media for nearly a century.

The National Parks BioBlitz—Washington, D.C., is the cornerstone event for more than 100 BioBlitzes taking place across the country. The National Parks BioBlitz is the culmination of a 10-year partnership between the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society, in the run-up to the National Park Service centennial August 25, 2016.

At the first National Parks BioBlitz in 2007, 1,000 BioBlitz participants recorded species findings with pen and paper. Today, thanks to the iNaturalist app, thousands of BioBlitz participants can share their observations and crowdsource identifications of flora and fauna at the press of a button. Whether you’re a curious kid or an expert botanist, iNaturalist allows you to share information with citizen-scientists around the world and to directly contribute data to national park species inventories. Past BioBlitz participants have added dozens of species to park inventories and even discovered one species new to science!

Because most people associate D.C. with memorials and museums, it may be surprising to learn that this area provides important habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals—the biodiversity here is unexpectedly rich,National Park Service Regional Director Bob Vogel said. “BioBlitz is a great opportunity for people of all interests and skills to discover these species and to contribute valuable information to national park scientists. We invite the Greater Washington community to join us in this exciting adventure.

More than 3,000 students from across our nation’s capital will participate in BioBlitz during their school day! Students ages eight and above will work alongside leading scientists to discover and document the biodiversity of our region’s national parks. BioBlitz provides classes with an opportunity to experience national parks, to learn about the wide biodiversity of species that inhabit our world and to gain first-hand exposure to the work of scientists.

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.”

To be part of a scientist-led inventory team, register online at www.natgeo.org/bioblitz-dc. Examples of species inventories include:

Early morning birding adventures on Theodore Roosevelt Island

Pollinator surveys in Piscataway Park

Meadow exploration and fish counts in Rock Creek Park

Wetland exploration in Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Spider surveys at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve

Butterfly surveys in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Discovery of stream insects at Manassas National Battlefield Park

Acoustic bat inventory at Constitution Gardens on the National Mall

A concurrent two-day Biodiversity Festival will be held at Constitution Gardens on the National Mall (17th and Constitution Avenue NW). The festival will feature 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 connection to more than 100 BioBlitz and biodiversity events taking place at national parks across the country that weekend. The festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 20-21, 2016, with a special evening of science fun planned for Friday night.

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.

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 www.amex.co/goparks. Verizon, Southwest Airlines Co. and the Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation are also providing support for the National Parks BioBlitz–Washington, D.C.

To learn more about BioBlitz and the festival, visit www.natgeo.org/bioblitz-dc.

 

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