Want to save pollinators? There’s an app for that.

Attention outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and wildlife champions! Don’t miss the chance to participate in a community-wide, virtual event that brings you closer to the outdoors right in your own backyard. 

The Township is hosting a week-long “bioblitz” – a community effort to identify as many species as possible during National Pollinator Week. This effort provides an informal, fun opportunity for the public to learn together and share their enthusiasm for nature. And the information collected contributes to a genuine scientific survey. Anyone can participate regardless of age or knowledge level.  

This community-wide, virtual event coincides with National Pollinator Week, June 22-28, 2020. Created by Pollinator.org, this world-wide celebration is also a call to action to save the bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and other pollinators who need our help.  

The Woodlands Township is celebrating National Pollinator Week by hosting a week-long BioBlitz. Participants are encouraged to seek out pollinators, in particular,when making observations. iNaturalist will automatically identify and track your observations and share the data with scientific organizations. Now you are participating in a world-wide citizen-science effort to help populations in need, like pollinators. 

How to participate 

  • Download the iNaturalist app onto your phone, tablet or computer.  
  • Before the Bioblitz officially begins, familiarize yourself with the app. 
  • Watch a short, simple tutorial at iNaturalist.org.  
  • Head outside with your phone and photograph the insects, critters and plants you encounter. 
  • Upload the photos to iNaturalist via the app or website. iNaturalist will help identify your picture. Just click ‘What did you see?’ on your phone, or the ‘Species name’ section under the photo you shared.  

To join The Woodlands Bioblitz, log into your iNaturalist account 

Cell Phones 

  • Select ‘Projects’ in the top left corner. 
  • Use the ‘Search’ magnifying glass in the top right corner. Type ‘The Woodlands Township BioBlitz June 2020’. 
  • Select ‘Join’. 

Computers 

  • Select ‘Community’ at the top of the page.  
  • Use the drop-down menu and select ‘Projects’. 
  • Use the search bar, located below the featured project. Type in ‘The Woodlands Township BioBlitz June 2020’. 
  • Click on the event to be directed to the project page. 
  • Select ‘Join’ in the upper right corner. 

Observations made during National Pollinator Week will be tallied at the end of the week. Results will be shared with our community.  You can make as many or as few observations as you like and from any area you wish – backyard, park or forest. However much you participate, you will find that you learn something new, contribute to important scientific efforts including pollinator conservation, and have fun being outdoors. Sign up today! 

For more information on how you can celebrate National Pollinator Week, visit www.pollinator.org or email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Explore the world without leaving your backyard

Tired of being inside all day? Looking for a way to keep the kids entertained without the TV? It’s time to take a break and get outside. Immersing in nature has many health benefits including reducing stress, anxiety, and blood pressure. And a breath of fresh air always feels good!

So step outside and look around. What do you see? Bees buzzing your lantana, and an anole sunbathing on the brick siding? What about that flowering vine you don’t recognize or the frog you found in the garden? Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of iNaturalist.

What is it?

iNaturalist, a FREE app that can be downloaded on your phone (iPhone and Android), tablet or computer, allows users to identify what they’re seeing and share their observations with others. iNaturalist is also a citizen science tool, with the collected data supporting research projects and conservation initiatives. Citizen science is when curious or concerned people collaborate by contributing the data they have collected to increase scientific knowledge. Those contributions have totaled nearly 33 million observations, and identified 250,000 species thanks to the 1.1 million people collecting data.

If you have kids at home under the age of 13, note that iNaturalist does not allow for accounts to be created for those younger ages. Check out Seek, a companion to iNaturalist that works in a similar way, but does not require an account. Drawing on images and information from iNaturalist, Seek encourages taking and sharing pictures to earn badges as a way to track your observations.

I downloaded it, now what?

Keep track and record your observations and encounters. You can upload photos, sound, tracks, nests and more. Not sure what you are looking at? Post that photo and a detailed description and the iNaturalist community will help you identify what you’ve found. iNaturalist has many video tutorials here, to help learn the functions of the app.

What else can I do in iNaturalist?

Build your knowledge and discover something new. You can look at observations made by others in your area, gaining a better understanding of the web of life that surrounds us. Challenge yourself, family and friends to see who can post the most pictures or who can identify the most observations. Once you’re comfortable identifying multiple species, have a friendly competition to find the most interesting animal or plant, or see who can identify the most birds by their call only.

However you decide to use iNaturalist, you’ll probably learn something new, develop your wildlife identification skills, and certainly spend more time outdoors. And you’ll likely find yourself inspired to make a difference. If you didn’t observe any bluebirds nearby consider building a bluebird house. If its March or April and you haven’t recorded many monarchs, plant native milkweed. By learning about the wildlife around your home, you can take educated actions to encourage more visits by providing the food and shelter that they need.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Happy 50th Birthday, Earth Day!

Tips for celebrating at home

April 22, 2020 marks 50 years of celebrating Earth Day and the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Although a monumental day such as this is usually celebrated with festivals and mass gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to recognize this milestone and do good for the planet. 

Discover the natural world in your own backyard.

Become a Citizen Scientist by observing wildlife and logging pictures using iNaturalist. Download the app, snap a picture, receive help identifying species and help scientists conducting global research. 

Start a garden to grow your own vegetables or to support pollinators

  • Keep organic waste out of landfills and create rich additive for your garden by starting a compost pile with green food scraps and yard waste. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Right 

  • Reduce the amount of waste you generate by choosing reusable alternatives and purchasing items with less packaging. 
  • Extend the life of products by reusing them; get creative by turning trash into treasure. 
  • Recycle right. Check with your local government about current recycling practices. Remember not to bag your recyclables and only put the specified items in your recycle bin.  

Watch a new documentary, webinar or presentation to learn more about our environment and how to preserve it for future generations. 

Stay Connected  

  • Think globally by subscribing to national and world-wide environmental organizations. This website has compiled a list of several groups that educate on important causes around the world, making it simple to learn how you can support their efforts.  
  • Act locally. Subscribe to The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Blog for ways to get involved in our community. Input your email at the top right of this screen and click the link in the confirmation sent to your email from Wordpress.  

Make Earth Day every day by continuing to practice environmentally friendly habits. If you would like more information on how to be green in the spirit of Earth Day or opportunities to get involved in our community, contact The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department at 281.210.3800 or enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.