This Friday, April 24, 2020, marks the start of the 5th annual City Nature Challenge, which began as a friendly competition between rival museums in Los Angeles (Natural History Museum of LA County) and San Francisco (California Academy of Sciences) to determine what city housed the most biodiversity. The first City Nature Challenge was so successful that it has grown every year since, adding more cities, more species, and more participants.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge is now a collaboration, which in some ways, feels fitting with tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The City Nature Collaboration has two parts: first, an observation period from April 24 (midnight, local time) – April 27; and second, an identification period from April 28 – May 3.
As City Nature Collaboration participants, we are uniquely positioned to once again show leadership in environmental education and conservation, just as politicians and environmental activists did in 1970 with the establishment of the first Earth Day. One of the remarkable things about Earth Day is that it was created in unity with a bipartisan movement; unity is much needed in our current national and international political climate.
There are many ways to still participate in this year’s City Nature Collaboration, as we shelter in place.
- Find wildlife! It can be any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!) found in your neighborhood, home, backyard, or even through your windows. My kids and I have been having a great time learning about what lives in our backyard (and inside our home)!
- For added fun, download daily bingo cards from CNC Sac Instagram
- Take pictures of what you see, then upload your observations to iNaturalist via the app or the web interface.
- Learn more as your observations are identified.
- If you’re not able to take photos of wildlife, focus your efforts on identifying species documented in your area!