Colorado – CPW’S Resource Stewardship Tracks Nature with a Smartphone

CPW’S Resource Stewardship Tracks Nature with a Smartphone

DENVER – Colorado Parks and Wildlife visitors, volunteers and staff began entering observations of plants and animals into the ‘State Parks NatureFinder’ project, hosted by the free smartphone application iNaturalist, July 13, at Colorado State Parks thanks to efforts by CPW’s Resource Stewardship program.

“Several hundred observations have been added since the project launched,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Matt Schulz, the forest management coordinator. “We are excited about connecting people who are passionate about our parks with the wildlife and plants that make each park unique and special.”

Previously the program had experimented with a variety of ways to track wildlife sightings using everything from handwritten reports and Microsoft Office documents to visitor center whiteboards and online databases.

The change to this simple, user-friendly technology is welcome.

“We considered several ideas, but the benefits of States Parks NatureFinder in engaging the public to help all of us learn more about biodiversity in our parks is substantial,” added Schulz.

Users can post photos and sounds or view the observations of other park visitors. iNaturalist uses a crowdsourced identification system to help observers identify the exact species they have seen. The application, iNaturalist, is managed by a non-profit organization and allows CPW to house their own project, called State Parks NatureFinder, within the site.

The project is also accessible via the web at www.inaturalist.org. The State Parks NatureFinder project allows CPW to track species presence, numbers, animal activity, and most importantly, the ability to see which species use the different habitats within each park.

Check out this quick guide to get started. View examples, screen shots of the app, and several State Parks NatureFinder photos here.

CPW’s Resource Stewardship Program exists to support state parks on all natural resource and cultural resource issues including surveys for individual species, habitat assessments, resource management, and park development planning. Resource inventories have traditionally been accomplished through partnerships with universities, non-profits, or private consultants. Inventory data feed directly into comprehensive resource plans for each state park that provide tools for managers to use in park management decision processes.