The Great Walden BioBlitz

The Great Walden BioBlitz

I spend a lot of my time putting together The Great Walden Pond BioBlitz (it’s on July 6th, come join us) . We’re bringing together teachers, scientists, naturalists, and the public to explore the parks and enhance our understanding of biodiversity. The Great Walden BioBlitz will focus on locating, identifying, and counting as many species as possible in the park. Our goal is to get OVER 100 specialists to come to the event on July 6 and identify 2,000 species!!! So far we’re at 88 registered, which HAS NOT been easy, who knew it would be so hard to get in touch with birders and botanists? Twice a week I make calls in a conference room with Peter Alden, a naturalist who worked to get the BioBlitz off the ground, to recruit more specialists. Peter spent most of his life traveling the world tracking rare and exotic birds. His publications identify over 7,000 birds over the world from places like the Amazon to the Vietnamese forests. His advice on developing as an environmental scientist: travel.

When I’m not calling specialists I do a lot of odds and end jobs to market the event to the greater public. Last week, a naturalist newsletter asked me to write a bit about the importance of biodiversity and explain how it relates to the BioBlitz. Then this week I’m writing press releases for the BioBlitz to local newspapers and magazines such as Wicked Local and The Hippo. Our first press release was just published this weekend in a local magazine Discover Concord. I had fun putting together these BioBlitz cubes that are displayed around the park. They’re cubic meters of PVC pipe placed around visitors centers, and inside them are labels identifying each and every species contained within the cube. Whenever I walk by them I see visitors reading the demonstrative next to it, kids looking at the cube, or naturalists double checking my identifications. It’s been a fun way to engage the public in our biodiversity initiatives and advertise the BioBlitz.

The main goal of my internship is to track the species of the park, then map with GIS the most biodiverse pockets. This BioBlitz is going to be incredibly helpful rounding up the species contained in the park and compiling the location specific data into ArcMap to analyze. Our goal is to look at the most biodiverse areas and reason why they are doing well, then predict what practices park management can do to rejuvenate the less biodiverse areas. I’ve spent a lot of time attending training seminars in Adobe AutoCAD as well as ArcMap to learn how to compile the research grade data to the standards of the U.S. Federal Government, running an analysis and producing usable maps. Yesterday I went into Boston with the rest of the Resource Management Department to the Olmsted Center in Boston, where they do GIS analysis for other national parks, to present my work to them and learn more about what I can do with ArcMaps. Since I’ll be mapping the park out on the computer, I’ve been exploring different parts of the park on my own to get the lay of the land. In an effort to combat invasives the park just started allowing active grazing to mow down overgrown fields. Today I went out to see the piglets and cattle doing their jobs to cut down the brush in some areas and make the park more usable for active agriculture.

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