|Friday, Jun 6, 2008|
After 24 hours of exploration and documentation, Santa Monica Mountainsâ âBioBlitzâ â an intensive day-long count of species within the park held last weekend â provided a snapshot of the many species that call Santa Monica Mountains NRA home.
Led by more than 125 scientists from around the country, thousands of amateur explorers, families and schoolchildren from the Los Angeles region conducted an inventory of the plants, bugs and other critters that inhabit the nationâs largest urban national park. The event was presented by National Park Service and National Geographic, in cooperation with California State Parks, Mountains Recreation Conservancy Authority and Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department.
Highlights of the survey included the following:
- The initial species count at the end of 24 hours was 1,364. This number continued to grow throughout the afternoon by several hundred as new data was entered. Over the next few months, organizers expect that number to rise exponentially as state-of-the-art testing of the collected samples continues.
- More than 6,000 people of all ages participated in the program during the 24 hours, including more than 1,400 kids from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
- Actor and host of VH1âs Celebra Cadaba Jonathan Levit emceed the closing ceremonies, featuring scientist highlights and final species count.
Following the BioBlitz was the Celebrate Biodiversity festival, which featured several bands, talks, nature walks, live animal demonstrations and other activities.
The BioBlitz was part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom. Participants combed the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible from noon Friday, May 30th, to noon Saturday, May 31st. Activities included wading in the creek to find fish, sweeping nets through fields to catch butterflies, searching for hidden microorganisms and scouring the night sky for owls, bats and other nocturnal life.
The Santa Monica Mountains NRA BioBlitz is the second of a series of ten annual BioBlitzes to be hosted by the NPS and National Geographic leading up to the Park Serviceâs centennial in 2016. The BioBlitz is funded, in part, by the NPS Centennial Challenge Program.
During closing ceremonies Saturday at Paramount Ranch, the BioBlitz flag was passed from Superintendent Woody Smeck, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, to Superintendent Costa Dillon, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where the third National Geographic/National Park Service BioBlitz will take place May 15-16, 2009.
The Western Incident Management Team (Don Mannel, IC) and rangers from NPS units all over California assisted the park with this event.