Sycamore Shoals State Park to join BioBlitz initiative with smartphone app

Sycamore Shoals is adding its name to a state-wide initiative to help catalog and showcase the wide variety of plants and animals Tennessee has to offer.

Leslie Brockley, an employee of the park, said the app, iNaturalist, is part of a state-wide initiative called BioBlitz, an effort to help identify unique species to the region to supplement the park’s nature services.

“We have a lot of people who visit the park,” Brockley said.

The app serves as an internet community. Users can take a picture of an interesting plant or animal, tag it with their location via GPS, and the app’s community will help identify the organism and tag it for other users to see in the future.

“iNaturalist is one of the most popular social network tools used for mapping and identifying plant and animal species all around the globe,” Sycamore Shoals employee Faith Reaves said in a press release. “It brings together beginner and seasoned naturalists, citizen scientists and biologists to help with creating research-quality data that scientists can use to better understand and protect nature.”

Brockley said the app serves both end-users and Tennessee State Parks equally.

“[Parks] can know exactly where these plants and animals were found,” she said.

She said this app will help showcase what Sycamore Shoals State Park has to offer all members of the community, both nature scientists and normal citizens alike.

“I am excited it will get us mapped and inventoried,” Brockley said.

The app is available for most smartphone devices. Users can download the app from their phone’s app store and create their login information.

“During 2019, any photo you take, while in a Tennessee State Park, that you upload to iNaturalist will be added to the Tennessee State Park BioBlitz project,” Reaves said. “The goal is to get 10,000 observations by the end of the year.”

Brockley said Reaves will give a brief presentation on iNaturalist during their Earth Day weekend activities. It will take place Saturday, April 27, from 10 to 11 a.m., right after the Community Plant Exchange.

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