Citizen Monitoring Program for Boston Harbor Islands
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
National Park Service
Delivered at 2003 Boston Harbor Islands Science Symposium
The Boston Harbor Islands citizen monitoring program is designed to monitor biological and social science indicators on the harbor islands using volunteers to collect data and, to a moderate degree, compute results for park managers to interpret and use to plan for sustainable management of the park. The reasons for designing a citizen/volunteer monitoring program are numerous, but the main points are as follows: get the Boston community involved; cost efficient way of monitoring an already healthy ecosystem and providing monitoring data to maintain it; park agency staff is already fully committed and cannot monitor without taking time away from their previous work agendas. The program will be time and cost efficient, and hopefully promote use of the park.
Community involvement is the key factor in this program. Using a citizen monitoring program allows the opportunity for citizens to be stewards of the islands and spread the word about the park’s presence and importance. Another integral part of a volunteer based program is that the participants become aware of their impacts on the environment and have the ability to minimize impacts in the future. Along with being aware of their impacts, volunteers will also understand how their contributions will affect the program as a whole and the future management of the park. We will make a point to keep our volunteers informed of changes in the park and the outcomes of the effort they put forth on the islands. The last main theme that volunteers will get from the work they did on the islands is that they are helping; the environment and community. Being able to feel good about what you are doing and knowing that you are helping to make a visible, positive impact on the islands and all that surrounds them is something that will promote citizens to volunteer.