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We are holding our first-ever BioBlitz to celebrate the biodiversity of our amazing public lands! This event will be held at the Milpitas Special Interest Area (http://www.ventanawild.org/advocacy/milpitas-special-interest-area) in the Ventana Wilderness on April 15, 2017.

What is a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz is a one-day biodiversity survey where members of the public become “citizen scientists” and team up with researchers, naturalists, and land managers to catalog species occurring in an area of interest. We will explore the Milpitas Special Interest Area in small groups guided by naturalists, where we'll identify and document as many different species as possible over the course of the day.

What is Citizen Science?

In order to track the health and stability of organisms around the world, researchers need to collect an abundance of data on where and when species are observed. However, the amount of data scientists can collect is often limited by funding, staffing constraints, or geographic and political boundaries. That's where you come in: people acting as citizen scientists can help fill in the gaps by recording species observations. Citizen science allows for collection of much larger datasets than a single team of scientists could collect on their own. These observations supply researchers with a multitude of useful data, including information on species distribution, abundance, reproduction and timing of activity patterns and life history cycles. Researchers have also harnessed the power of citizen science to track the spread of wildlife diseases (http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/pisaster-disaster-tracking-starfish-wasting-disease), document new populations of introduced species (https://www.kcet.org/redefine/citizen-scientists-finding-new-reptile-species-in-southern-california), and create adaptive plans for pest management (http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/news/local-news/crowdsourcing-projects-put-everyday-folks-role-mosquito-research-scientists).

VWA staff and volunteers will help you identify species and enter observations into iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/about), a publicly accessible database of natural history observations. After you upload your data, other iNaturalist users will peer-review your observations for accuracy and verify them as research-grade data. Observations from the BioBlitz will provide a valuable snapshot of biodiversity, including information on the spread of invasive plants and locations of species of conservation concern. We plan to use this data to guide management decisions in the wilderness and create natural history curriculum for our Youth in Wilderness program.

How to Participate

Anyone can join; no training or experience is necessary to become a citizen scientist!

-Sign up for the event here. Space is limited, so please RSVP for all the guests in your party.

-Create an iNaturalist account (http://www.inaturalist.org/signup). The easiest way to record observations is by downloading the app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inaturalist/id421397028?mt=8) for your smartphone. There's limited phone reception at the Milpitas Special Interest Area so you'll need to download the app before you arrive.

- Join our BioBlitz project on iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/ventana-wilderness-alliance-bioblitz-milpitas-sia). We'll use this project to log our observations.

-Please tread lightly on this very special piece of wilderness by following Leave No Trace principles (http://www.ventanawild.org/plan-a-trip/leave-no-trace)

-If you are a naturalist and you're interested in leading a group or assisting with species identifications, contact Amy Patten at [masked]. We'd love to have your help!

When and Where

Milpitas Special Interest Area (SIA) (http://www.ventanawild.org/advocacy/milpitas-special-interest-area)- Saturday, April 15, 2017. If heavy rain cancels the event, we’ll postpone to Saturday, April 22, 2017.

We've divided the BioBlitz into four sessions. You are welcome to show up to whichever sessions suit your schedule and natural history interests!

-8:30am-10am Early Riser Bird Blitz

-10am-1pm Morning Session

-1pm-2pm: break for lunch

-2pm-5pm Afternoon Session

-5pm-7pm: break for dinner

7pm-9pm Moths, Owls, Amphibians & Other Nighttime Critters

For the day of the event, meet at the Santa Lucia Guard Station (https://www.google.com/maps/place/36%C2%B007'02.4%22N+121%C2%B027'54.1%22W/@36.1173293,-121.4672248,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d36.117325!4d-121.4650361) at the beginning of a session to join a group and receive maps and instructions. We'll send out maps and directions after you RSVP.

What to Bring

-Your phone with the iNaturalist app OR a notebook and camera to record observations.

-There are no potable water sources or food services in this area. Please bring your own water, lunch, and dinner.

-Binoculars, hand lenses, field guides and any other equipment you need to make observations.

-Camping gear if you plan to stay the night. There are limited, first-come first-serve campsites ($20/night) at Memorial Park Campground. There are opportunities for dispersed camping in the area as well.

Special Considerations

Although we’ll begin each session near the pavement, much of the BioBlitz will involve travel through federally designated Wilderness. Wilderness is defined as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man…affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable”. Our primary goal is conservation of species and protection of the wilderness character that makes the Milpitas SIA such a biologically diverse region. We will keep groups small and minimize our impact, but it will be essential for all of us to observe LEAVE NO TRACE principles (http://www.ventanawild.org/plan-a-trip/leave-no-trace).

Useful Links

How to make observations on iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started)

Contribute to our Northern Santa Lucia Range Inventory project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/northern-santa-lucia-range-inventory)

Memorial Park Campground (https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lpnf/recarea/?recid=10911)

Want to see more events like this in the future? Donate to the VWA! (https://www.ventanawild.org/donate)