Springfield Hosts First Ever Community BioBlitz

“I work with the Sustainable Springfield Urban Refuge Partnership, and today we have our first ever BioBlitz for the city of Springfield!” exclaims Dave Sagan, Private Lands Partners Biologist with Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge. In partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, ReGreen Springfield, the Springfield Science Museum, and experts and naturalists from the state of Massachusetts, the city of Springfield hosted its first BioBlitz in Abbey Brook on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employees and interns pause for a group photo at the 2017 Springfield BioBlitz. Photo by ReGreen Springfield.

The purpose of the BioBlitz is to engage the local community in collecting data on the flora and fauna found in their neighborhood, specifically Abbey Brook behind the Springfield Renaissance School. In collaboration with host partners, participants from the Springfield community identified, counted, measured, photographed, and recorded information about the species they discovered.

Several groups of Renaissance School students had the opportunity to participate in the BioBlitz, where they were introduced to wildlife species in their community. “It’s pretty exciting to see folks that are actually coming and seeing Abbey Brook for the first time, whether it be youth or an older person, but especially youth to see them really experience nature first hand. A lot of folks see the trees and they see the woods, but they don’t take the time to go out and adventure into them. Today the BioBlitz partners will take them into the woods to teach them about the things that live in Abbey Brook, and point out what they might look for the next time they visit. The opportunity to come back and explore and look at other natural areas in the city is critical and important,” says Dave Bloniarz with U.S. Forest Service and ReGreen Springfield.

The NorthWoods Youth Conservation Corps participated in the BioBlitz, and have completed restoration projects in Abbey Brook. Photo by Kelsey Mackey.

“It’s really a cool engagement throughout the community, not only here at the Renaissance School but also the surrounding neighbors to see this little gem they have right in their backyard,” says Dave Sagan. The BioBlitz not only contributes critical data to the scientific community, but also exposes the Springfield community to natural areas within their city, often for the first time. “We found frogs, a turtle, and are also looking at some of the trees and plants that I didn’t know about, and what they do. I think that’s pretty cool,” says Savioie Mohown, a Renaissance School student and BioBlitz participant.

“This is my first BioBlitz and so far it’s been incredible. I got to meet kids from different areas, and working with partners has been amazing. Everyone is so knowledgeable, and they provide learning and education to today’s youth. I’m hoping the BioBlitz will continue to happen every year, it’s a great experience and an amazing opportunity to be able to attend,” says Crystal Leckie, Hispanic Access Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Services intern.

By the end of the BioBlitz, partners and participants successfully identified 97 bird, amphibian, reptile, and plant species! Many participants left with a greater understanding and appreciation for wildlife and natural areas in their community. The success of the BioBlitz species count exemplifies the incredible diversity of wildlife found within urban areas, and provides a unique opportunity for community members to learn about the wildlife in their own neighborhood.

Click here for more great stories like these from fellow Hispanic Access Foundation interns!

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