By Cameron Rasmusson
In modern society, it’s easy to forget the ecosystems that exist just outside your front door. Kaniksu Land Trust hopes to change that.
The organization, which works to preserve undeveloped open spaces in Idaho and Montana, is hosting BioBlitz, a national event that is striking a chord with environmentally rich communities. Sandpoint is certainly that, and Kaniksu Land Trust community outreach director Suzanne Tugman believes local BioBlitzers will come away from the event with a deeper appreciation of their environment.
“We see a need to invest in programs that are interesting and fun but also educate people in the wonder and beauty of where they live,” Tugman said.
BioBlitz is a game with a specific goal: Participants must find and catalogue as many differing species as possible. But it’s also an academic exercise that gathers real data to better understand the regional ecosystem. During the BioBlitz, experienced scientists and naturalists guide teams of amateurs to scour the environment for birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, flowering plants, lichens and moss and fungi.
According to Tugman, participating in the BioBlitz brings about unique insight into the worlds of life just outside your front door. After all, it’s a lot easier to connect with nature and appreciate the unique make-up of Sandpoint’s ecology when you know the flora and fauna surrounding you. That’s doubly true when residents appreciate how human influence has impacted wildlife over time.
“It brings the community together because it makes them realize we’re all in this together,” Tugman said.
The BioBlitz also provides professional scientists with valuable information about potentially rare species or other insights into environmental changes over time. That’s especially valuable for the location of the Sandpoint event, the University of Idaho extension campus. Because the property has decades of data connected to it, scientists can better understand climate change or other fields of study that require long-term date collection.
While the citizen science elements of the BioBlitz require pre-registration, there will be plenty of activities for anyone turning out to the University of Idaho extension campus. The events will take families into nature to explore their environment in detail.
“The BioBlitz connects people with Sandpoint,” said Suzanne Tugman, Outreach Director of the Kaniksu Land Trust. “The scientists and volunteers will develop important information about the biodiversity within our community and provide a scientific basis to track changes over time.”
The event begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 20th, at the U of I property on North Boyer. The blitz will conclude 24 hours later. Limited overnight camping accommodations will be available. Sign up by calling Kaniksu Land Trust at 208.263.9471 or emailing Regan@kaniksu.org or Suzanne@kaniksu.org
To find a full schedule of events and learn more about activities, visit www.kaniksulandtrust.org.