Bioblitz: Counting the Corridor
By: Nicole Forsgren
Conservation Florida is a nonprofit land trust whose mission is to save Florida’s wild and working landscapes. By working with landowners, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, over 25,000 acres of land are being protected. Along with this goal of protecting Florida’s land, Conservation Florida intends to protect wildlife, natural systems, rural economies, and sites of recreation and heritage.
In order to better understand the biodiversity and overall health of Florida, Conservation Florida is hosting a bioblitz at three different locations on Saturday, October 20 from 8am to 2pm. At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Alexander Springs Recreation Area, or Kissimmee Prairie State Park, participants will be joined by experts to count and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and any other organisms that they come in contact with. By downloading the iNaturalist app on your smartphone, all recorded data and observations can be sent directly to Conservation Florida’s project data.
We caught up with Traci Deen, Executive Director at Conservation Florida to discuss the impact that we have on the environment and how bioblitzes help.
FWFF: What is the purpose of a bioblitz?
TD: We aim to connect Floridians with the beauty and biodiversity of three conserved locations within the Florida Wildlife Corridor to highlight the need for further protection, all while collecting useful data. The locations we chose showcase three diverse habitats that are all critically necessary to our state.
How can conducting a bioblitz help with conservation and protection of land and those that inhabit it?
I’m glad you asked. Our bioblitz will emphasize the incredible biodiversity within the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which ultimately supports its continued and expanded protection. More–and just as important I think– is that a bioblitz welcomes people from all backgrounds to explore the land, engage in science, and connect with some of Florida’s most special places. We know that wild Florida is easy to fall in love with. Once the affair begins, conservation gains new advocates.
Is there a fee to participate in the bioblitz?
No fee to participate, though we ask that participants pay the park entrance fees to support the park systems.
Can I sponsor the event? Can I volunteer to help?
Yes, to both! If you are interested in sponsoring, partnering, or volunteering to staff the event, please email [email protected]. By participating, photographing, and uploading your finds to iNaturalist, you are volunteering already–and we appreciate you.
How did the idea of a state-wide bioblitz arise? Has this been successfully conducted in other parts of the country?
We knew that capturing a snapshot of our state’s biodiversity could only happen if we approached this in a big way. Florida is a truly astonishing place. We have these unbelievably distinct landscapes that differ so significantly, we couldn’t resist emphasizing it. We are featuring a coastal habitat that should be encountering annual monarch butterfly migration, a sand pine scrub forest with a first magnitude spring, and a dry prairie. Isn’t Florida awesome? Other places have been successful at this scale, and we think Florida will be no exception.
How else is Conservation Florida trying to protect Florida’s land and animals?
From the Florida Panhandle to the Everglades Headwaters, we have land conservation projects that are truly shaping Florida’s conservation future. In fact, the large, statewide projects we target have global significance and will help protect some of the rarest habitats and species in the world. Our projects focus on lands that provide habitat for the survival of Florida’s iconic species, recharge drinking water or benefit other hydrologic functions, and offer outdoor recreation and other community benefits. We also help landowners with working ranches, farms, and timberlands to keep their land in production for generations to come. We have protected over 25,000 acres since 1999 and are now leading conservation projects totaling over 180,000 acres.
How can people help, should they not be able to attend the event? Will there be other opportunities?
Hopefully, this is the first annual #FLbioblitz, and you’ll have the opportunity to join us next year. In the meantime, we’d love it if you joined our team by becoming a member! If you can’t attend this event, but want to get involved, please join us by visiting conserveflorida.org. We want you on our side.