Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park in west Rocky View County is engaging in a citizen science project designed to collect data on the unique flora and fauna that call the park home.
The City Nature Challenge runs from April 30 to May 3. During the challenge, people are encouraged to take photos of all the animals and plants they encounter while visiting Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, according to Jenna SzuchPublic, the program and visitor services coordinator for the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation.
“We’re really excited to be a part of the challenge and we hope to get a lot of observations that weekend,” Szuch said.
Participants will be able to upload photos they take during the event to the 2021 iNaturalist Project app or iNaturalistproject.ca until May 9.
Once the photos are uploaded, they are used for education and conservation, according to Szuch
“It’s quite difficult to protect the animals without knowing what’s there,” she said. “The iNaturalist app and City Nature Challenge is fantastic for tracking invasive species, or locating species at risk.”
The City Nature Challenge includes 325 cities across the globe. Cochrane, Calgary, Okotoks, Airdrie and Chestermere are included in the City Nature Challenge Calgary area.
The event is the perfect event for nature lovers because it has a positive impact on the park and makes a difference in conservation, according to Szuch. The data gained during the challenge will be used by scientists to better understand the ecosystem of the area.
“The observations that you submit are having a positive impact,” she said.
The Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the provincial park. The foundation's stewardship is done through education, collaboration and engagement – factors Szuch said are embodied in the City Nature Challenge.
Staff and volunteers will be on hand during the event to feature fun facts about the animals and plants who call the provincial park home, answer any questions and encourage guests to participate in the challenge.
“Whatever you can find, any plant, any animal, we’re encouraging people to take a picture,” Szuch said. “There’s really no wrong picture.”
The citizen science project is designed to showcase and explore the biodiversity found in the Calgary region.
“Every park user is a valuable scientist and together we can document the wildlife in and around the city,” Szuch said.
For those participating in the City Nature Challenge, Szuch recommends taking the time to slow down and look around to appreciate nature while exploring the sprawling park.
“It’s quite remarkable what you see if you stand still in Glenbow or take a seat somewhere. You will be surprised at all the birds and the bugs that are back and the deer,” Szuch said. “It’s a wonderful place.”
Right now is an exciting time because participants may be able to snap a picture of the Mountain Bluebird. The vivid blue-coloured birds typically visit the ranch in March, but this year they are just starting to arrive.
“It’s quite a treat if you see 50 or a hundred of them together,” Szuch said.
For more information on the City Nature Challenge visit citynatureyyc.ca