Weeklong BioBlitz Coming to the Santa Monica Mountains

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Date: May 11, 2016
Contact: Zach Behrens, 805-370-2385

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Griffith Park's mountain lion, P-22, has become a symbol for wildlife in the greater Los Angeles area. But he and his fellow charismatic cats that roam these mountains are just one end of the food chain. Below them is a rich and diverse array of plants and animals, from ubiquitous coyotes to elusive ringtail cats, fragrant sagebrush to the brilliantly blue Parry's phacelia wildflower.

That's one reason why Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is one of several sites across the country concurrently hosting a BioBlitz during the National Park Service's centennial year. A BioBlitz is a quest to discover living organisms through public involvement. During these rapid biological surveys, scientists and volunteers of all ages and backgrounds work together to compile a "snapshot" of biodiversity in a short span of time, in this case, the week of May 16 through May 22.

"The Santa Monica Mountains are a biodiversity hotspot," says David Szymanski, superintendent for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. "Just in plants alone, there over 1,200 species. The BioBlitz is an opportunity to come out and see the mountains in a very cool and different way."

The highlight of the week will be the free, family-friendly BioBlitz Festival at Paramount Ranch during the weekend:

  • On Friday night, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., festival goers can go on an interactive night hike, look through high-powered telescopes, make nocturnal-themed arts and crafts, listen to talks from experts on topics from owls to light pollution, and enjoy a children's reading stage.
  • On Saturday, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the festival will include an interactive hike, amphibian and reptile pitfall trapping demos, native plant restoration, children's activities like the Puma Challenge, and ways for kids to earn the Centennial Junior Ranger Badge.
Numerous other events will also take place:

  • Student Inventory, May 16 - 19: More than 600 fourth graders will inventory species at seven sites in the recreation area. As part of President Obama's Every Kid in a Park initiative, they will also earn an annual federal park pass, which will give they and their families free entrance into national parks across the country.
    • National Park Service scientists and rangers will host students at King Gillette Ranch and Rocky Oaks each day.
    • Scientists from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will host a marine-themed BioBlitz at Malibu Surfrider Beach with items inventoried at the nearby Malibu Pier on May 16 and 19 (the public is invited to attend this event).
    • Students will also perform inventories at Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Creek State Park, Stunt Ranch Reserve, and Cold Creek Reserve with the Resource Conservation District, Mountains Restoration Trust, and UCLA Bruin Naturalists.
  • L.A. River Campout, May 20-21: Over 200 people at this already-booked event will camp along the Los Angeles River in Glassell Park. Besides the traditional campfire and s'mores (as well as tacos, of course), campers will perform a flora and fauna survey, with an emphasis on insects, bird watch at dusk, and review wildlife camera footage. This event is presented in collaboration with Clockshop, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and California State Parks.
  • Independent Citizen Science, All Week: The public is encouraged to not just stop and smell the (native) roses, but to take observations of plants and animals of the recreation area (map) with their phones and submit them via the free iNaturalist app. This citizen science activity will contribute data that can then be used by scientists studying the mountains in the future. We are especially data-poor on iNaturalist along much of the Backbone Trail and at Arroyo Sequit.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area participated in a 24-hour BioBlitz in 2008 with National Geographic. Over 5,500 observations were made, finding about 1,700 species.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities.



Last updated: May 12, 2016

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