June Butterfly Count Program at Congaree National Park

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Date: May 22, 2015
Contact: David Shelley, 803.647.3966

Have you ever noticed different kinds - sizes, colors, behaviors, habitats and more - of butterflies? Have you ever wondered what butterflies can tell us about the health of our environment? Would you like to learn to collect data as a citizen scientist?

The public is invited to learn more about butterflies and help count them as part of a special citizen science program at Congaree National Park on Saturday, June 13. This program is coordinated through the NPS Old-Growth Bottomland Forest Research and Education Center(http://nricms.nps.doi.net/rlc/ogbfrec), the Carolina Butterfly Society (http://carolinabutterflysociety.org), and they North American Butterfly Association (http://www.naba.org).

Butterflies are not only beautiful, but ecologically important as pollinators (find out more about the National Park Service pollinators program - including butterflies, flowers, and more - at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/pollinators/index.htm). Butterflies are also important indicators of ecosystem health. Some butterflies require specific plants or climate patterns to survive, and many may be affected by habitat loss, pollution, and disease. By studying changes in butterfly populations over space and time, scientists can learn a lot about our changing world. Such a project, however, requires eyes and feet (as opposed to expensive laboratory machines) to help spot, identify, and count butterflies. You - as a volunteer - are invited to get involved!

All ages and experience levels are welcome to join the Congaree National Park Butterfly Count on Saturday, June 13, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. After a brief introduction, volunteers will work with experts and divide up into groups to survey (spot, identify, and count) butterflies in diverse areas of the park. There will be a range of hiking options from easy, family-friendly strolls to backcountry hikes. Some counting groups will be out most of the day, but other groups can accommodate visitors who can only participate through lunch time. The data will be reported to the North American Butterfly Association, which has been coordinating annual counts since 1975. By compiling this data with other counts from all across the continent, scientists can make maps and measure changes in butterfly populations over time.

These programs are free, but space is limited. Advance reservations are required by calling 803.776.4396. The program will begin at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Participants should wear long-pants and close-toed shoes. Sun protection, bug spray, water, snacks, and sack lunch are recommended. Binoculars, butterfly field guides, and digital cameras are available for loan at no charge. For more information, contact David Shelley at e-mail us, or call 803.647.3966.

Access to the park (including the canoe launches, campgrounds, trails, visitor center, restrooms, picnic areas) is free of charge. The Harry Hampton Visitor Center is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Tuesday-Saturday, year-round. The air-conditioned visitor center includes exhibits, a 20-minute introductory film, and bookstore. Rangers and volunteers at the front desk can provide park maps and brochures, as well as answer a host of questions about hiking, fishing, camping, paddling, guided-walks, and more. There is also a free junior ranger program for children. The facility is closed on Sunday, Monday, and all Federal holidays. Visitors are encouraged to explore Congaree at any time, as the park's trails and campgrounds remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Law enforcement and emergency services are available to visitors 7 days per week.

For more information about Congaree National Park, call 803.647.3970, or visit www.nps.gov/cong. Join Congaree National Park on social media: www.facebook.com/CongareeNP, www.twitter.com/CongareeNPS, www.flickr.com/photos/congareenps/ and www.pintrest.com/congareenps.

Celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service in 2016! The centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America's national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial. Find your park at www.findyourpark.com.

Last updated: May 22, 2015

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