“This park is a special place for my family. Learning more about the plants and animals will help me share with my family and friends how we can keep the park fun for future kids like me.” - William Cody Evans, Bering Land Bridge BioBlitz Applicant
Let's Blitz at Bering Land Bridge
What’s a bioblitz? Traditionally a BioBlitz is a gathering of scientists, naturalists, and community members who inventory a number of species within a specific area, usually within a cycle of 48 hours. As part of the National Park Services (NPS) centennial celebration in 2016, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve will participate in a National Geographic and NPS sponsored BioBlitz effort this summer.
While most bioblitz events promote the participation of as many community members as possible, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, like many other NPS sites in Alaska, is very difficult to reach. There are no roads that bring you here. Therefore, the inaccessibility and remoteness of the preserve has set the stage for a multiday science field trip at Serpentine Hot Springs where a select number of participants are shuttled in to the preserve via bush plane. Once the aircraft leaves, BioBlitz participants and NPS staff are on their own. This is BioBlitz – Alaska Style!
Currently, Bering Land Bridge staff has been recruiting youth from communities that surround the preserve including Wales, Brevig Mission, Shishmaref and Nome to participate in this citizen science event. These opportunities will allow area youth to work amongst scientists and park staff to inventory, sample, and monitor species we have very little or no information about. These participates will truly be doing some ground breaking data collection and establishing a baseline of resource knowledge in Serpentine Hot Springs.
Investigations will include aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, including butterflies and dragonflies; and observe beaver ecology and its influence on passerines, waterfowl, water quality, and fish. Additionally, this event promotes the spirit of local stewardship that already exists in surrounding villages while engaging youth in biological sciences and exposing them to careers in public lands and conservation.
Youth find value and importance in opportunities like these too! Chase Marvin, a BioBlitz applicant, wrote, “I want to be outside learning about what is around me because what happens here may actually affect me. I want to always be able to go outside and enjoy nature, and I want my kids and grandkids to someday be able to enjoy nature too. I think BioBlitz is a wonderful opportunity for people to go to because you don’t see many of these programs open for free or at all in other places around the country. We humans are connected to nature, and we must take care of it to keep us alive. I think I would regret not applying for this, so I might as well try to get in. I would also like to have a career in the natural sciences because I am intrigued by nature. I have always liked being outside and just observing the world around me. I am willing to spend time outside and in nature for the benefit of learning about what is around me.”
In an age where youth are considered “nature deficient”, BioBlitzes and other citizen science events may just help further ignite that passion and appreciation for the outdoors especially when these opportunities are available during youth’s formative years.
Luckily, BioBlitz events will be held throughout the nation. There are over 200 BioBitz events taking place throughout the country this year, with a kick off BioBlitz festival in our nation’s capital on May 20-21. If you are not in Alaska or Washington D.C., search for a BioBlitz event near you and join thousands of other BioBlitzers around the country who are learning, exploring, and celebrating biodiversity!