This Spring Keep Wayne Wild partnered with Ohio State University's Graduate Evolution and Ecology Grad Students Group (GEES) to conduct our first bioblitz in the Marietta Unit of Wayne National Forest. We had our second one in July and are now beginning to plan a third for this Fall.
Bioblitzes are fun research events conducted by volunteers who get together and survey a natural area to identify wildlife species. Like many groups doing similar projects, Keep Wayne Wild is using INaturalist to record our findings. Volunteers can download the free app to their mobile devices and upload photos directly, or upload photos to the INaturalist website. Anyone who doesn't have a smartphone or internet access can make written observations, which our volunteers can input in INaturalist. We created a project that participants can add observations to at our events or when they're out in the Marietta Unit on their own throughout 2018.
Participants at our first two bioblitzes included Keep Wayne Wild volunteers from Columbus, Athens, Marietta, Parkersburg, and Woodsfield, GEES members, and representatives of Ohio Environmental Council and Sierra Club Ohio's Forest Committee. Our local volunteers got to share their personal knowledge of the area and the edible and medicinal plants they harvest in the forest, and GEES members got to use their expertise and technical equipment to survey an area most had never visited before.
Athens-based environmental organization Rural Action regularly conducts bioblitzes in the Athens Unit of the Wayne National Forest, but this is the first time they've been done in the Marietta Unit, where parcels are being leased to gas and oil companies for unconventional fracking.
Data from bioblitzes can be submitted to USFS for consideration in the Land Management Plan Revision the agency is currently conducting, so if you hike, camp, fish, kayak, picnic, or otherwise spend time in the Marietta Unit, photos you take of wildlife in the forest can be added to the project to help illustrate the importance of protecting this beautiful area that's so loved by locals and visitors alike.
If you're interested in helping with the Fall Bioblitz, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!