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Glacier National Park Continues to Gather Valuable Data from Citizen Scientists

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Date: June 24, 2011
Contact: Ellen Blickhan, 406 888-5838
Contact: Jami Belt, 406 888-7986

WEST GLACIER, MONT. - The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center (CCRLC) at Glacier National Park is continuing to engage the public in important park research this summer through its citizen science program. Citizen scientists are an integral part of gathering baseline population data on species of interest in the park.

The program trains individuals to identify, observe and record information on mountain goats, pikas, loons and invasive plants. These species have been targeted because of their sensitivity to changes in habitat, human disturbances and, in the case of invasive plants, their threat to native biodiversity. The Park has little information about the distribution of these species throughout the park – citizen scientists are often surprised to learn how little is known about wildlife in Glacier. This emphasizes the need for the program for expanding our breadth of knowledge and educating the public on wildlife. The training also serves to inform volunteers on threats to native plants and animals that may result from human disturbance, climate change and invasive species.

The benefit of citizen science is more than just data points from survey results but is also, and perhaps more importantly, an informed group of volunteers involved in active stewardship of the park. Any member of the general public is welcome to become a citizen scientist for any of the three projects by attending a one day training session that covers background biology, species identification and procedures for ethical wildlife observation. Current training sessions for each project are listed below. Please contact the CCRLC at (406) 888-7986 to sign up and for more details. Additional training sessions will be scheduled based on interest; contact the CCRLC if you would like to be involved but cannot attend any of these dates.

High Country Citizen Science
Citizen scientists observe mountain goat and pika behavior at selected sites to assist with population and distribution estimates. Both species are habitat and temperature sensitive and may be affected by climate change. Training dates: June 28th, July 8th, July 18th
Invasive Plant Citizen Science:
Citizen scientists learn to identify five targeted invasive plants and to use GPS units to mark their locations while hiking along Park trails. In addition to regular training sessions, we will also host the second annual Noxious Weed Blitz, during which participants will assist the park by pulling targeted weeds. Training dates: July 7th, July 19th, July 28th
Common Loon Citizen Science
Citizen scientists gather information on the distribution and reproduction of Common Loons to understand more about population trends and nesting success. Contact the CCRLC for more information.

Support for the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center’s Citizens Science Program is provided by the Glacier National Park Fund, the Park’s non-profit fundraising partner, in partnership with the Unilever U.S. Foundation and the NPS Climate Change Response Program, a partner of the National Council for Science and the Environment.
For more information on the Citizen Science Program, contact us at (406) 888-7986 or Glac_Citizen_Science@nps.gov, or visit our website,
http://www.nps.gov/glac/naturescience/ccrlc-citizen-science.htm.

 

- NPS –

Did You Know?

Jackson Glacier

If current trends continue, some scientists predict that by the year 2030, Glacier National Park will not contain any glaciers and many of the park's smaller glaciers will melt even sooner.