Griffith Park’s mountain lion, P-22, has become a symbol for wildlife in the greater Los Angeles area. But he and his fellow charismatic cats that roam these mountains are just one end of the food chain. Below them is a rich and diverse array of plants and animals, from ubiquitous coyotes to elusive ringtail cats, fragrant sagebrush to the brilliantly blue Parry’s phacelia wildflower.
That’s one reason why Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is one of several sites across the country concurrently hosting a BioBlitz during the National Park Service’s centennial year.
So… what’s a BioBlitz?
A BioBlitz is a quest to discover living organisms through public involvement. During these rapid biological surveys, scientists and volunteers of all ages and backgrounds work together to compile a “snapshot” of biodiversity in a short span of time, in this case, the week of May 16-21.
“The Santa Monica Mountains are a biodiversity hotspot,” says David Szymanski, superintendent for Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “Just in plants alone, there over 1,200 species. The BioBlitz is an opportunity to come out and see the mountains in a very cool and different way.”
The BioBlitz kicks off this Monday at 10 a.m. with a marine-themed collection and identification event at the Malibu Pier put together by the National Parks Service and Natural History Museum scientists. There will also be a second edition of the marine event scheduled for Thursday, May 19.
The highlight of the week will be the free, family-friendly BioBlitz Festival at Paramount Ranch during the weekend.
On Friday, May 20 from 7 to 10 p.m., festival goers can go on an interactive night hike, look through high-powered telescopes, make nocturnal-themed arts and crafts, listen to talks from experts on topics from owls to light pollution, and enjoy a children’s reading stage.
Then on Saturday, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the festival will include an interactive hike, amphibian and reptile pitfall trapping demos, native plant restoration, children’s activities like the Puma Challenge, and ways for kids to earn the Centennial Junior Ranger Badge.
The BioBlitz posits itself as an opportunity for participants to explore nature with expert guides, assist in important research initiatives and, most importantly, make new friends and celebrate public parks.
In the decade leading up to the National Park Service centennial, National Geographic and the National Park Service have collaborated on a BioBlitz in a different national park each year.
In 2016, to celebrate the centennial, over 250 BioBlitzes are happening across the country and throughout the year.
Sound like something you might be into?
Get more info on the full schedule of events plus how to participate nps.gov.