‘Citizen scientists’ can participate in Middlesex County’s month-long BioBlitz campaign in September


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MIDDLESEX COUNTY – The Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation will run a month-long BioBlitz in September as part of the National Recreation and Park Association’s Parks for Pollinators campaign.

The BioBlitz campaign is open to all individuals, groups and families. Parks for Pollinators is a nationwide, virtual event that helps to raise awareness regarding the pollinator crisis and to increase community involvement in protecting pollinators and biodiversity, according to a press release through Middlesex County on Aug. 30.

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Created in 2018, the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz is a collaboration between the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA) and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation.

The BioBlitz campaign invites community members to help create a snapshot of the variety of plants and wildlife that can be found in the County parks. Community members participate by using an app iNaturalist on a smart phone where they take photos of plants, insects, and animals found in the park, according to the press release.

This provides the park system more information about what wildlife is present in the park during the BioBlitz and about local pollinators, which are essential to the ecosystem.

How it Works

Using the app iNaturalist on a smart phone, participants can visit any of Middlesex County’s 19 parks or open space preserves during the month of September and take photos of trees, plants, butterflies, bees or moths. They can then use the app to attempt to identify the species and upload the photo to the iNaturalist website where experts will confirm the identification or offer a suggestion regarding the species. Participants can also take photos that they later upload to the iNaturalist website, according to the press release.

Anyone interested in participating in the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz in Middlesex County can visit middlesexcountynj.gov/bioblitz for additional information and to download the iNaturalist app.

“Our County parks are wonderful spaces for everyone to enjoy – including the bees, butterflies, and moths that provide a vital function as pollinators,” Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios said.

“Pollinators play a crucial role in our ecosystem and in sustaining healthy communities, and September’s ‘Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz’ will provide critical information regarding the types of pollinators currently found in our County parks and open spaces. I’m proud that Middlesex County will once again be participating in this national campaign, and I encourage all County residents to head out to a County park and join in as a ‘citizen scientist.’ The data collected during the BioBlitz will help us ensure we are maintaining pollinator-friendly spaces throughout Middlesex County.”

County Commissioner Charles E. Tomaro, chair of the County’s Infrastructure Management Committee, called the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz an “exciting opportunity” for residents.

“I hope we will see members of the community enjoying our wonderful parks while also helping with this important effort. The data will help inform decisions about biodiversity, and it will be interesting to see the various types of pollinators that live in our County parks,” he said.

When the September Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz is complete, the Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation will develop a list of species for each County park. The data will be available for the public to view on the iNaturalist website and to be utilized by scientists.

Information about Middlesex County parks – including park locations, hours, and details about the various amenities available at each park – can be found on the County website at middlesexcountynj.gov

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