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Death Valley BioBlitz allows parkgoers chance to participate in research

If you ever wanted to be part of something that will benefit a national tourist destination, then an event next week is for you.

Death Valley National Park will host a BioBlitz event at Salt Creek on March 12, which is a festival celebrating the biodiversity of the national park area and provides an opportunity for all ages to participate in valuable research.

BioBlitz is one of several similar events taking place across the country in honor of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary this year.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the public to interact and connect with the scientific community, while contributing to park stewardship through hands-on field work,” said Mike Reynolds, Death Valley National Park superintendent.

“Find Your Park” is the theme for the National Park Service Centennial, and it urges people to explore new places.

BioBlitz provides a way for the public to learn about the interesting plant and animal diversity of Death Valley National Park while contributing to citizen science.

At the BioBlitz event, Death Valley National Park will collaborate with taxonomic experts to create scientist-led teams of volunteers, giving the public the opportunity to work with biologists of many specialties.

Wildflowers will be an added bonus for BioBlitz participants, as Death Valley National Park is experiencing its best wildflower bloom since 2005. If weather cooperates, the bloom is likely to be good at least through mid-March, according to the national park.

The BioBlitz event is free and will involve scientific exploration and festival activities such as guided walks, talks, show-and-tell sessions and crafts.

Whether you want to help a scientist or check out the festivities, there will be something that will please the whole family.

The BioBlitz is an opportunity to explore and catalog biodiversity at the very edge of life’s tolerances. The rare Salt Creek pupfish should be easily observed during their spawning season. Come discover what else lives 190 feet below sea level in Salt Creek and the surrounding badlands landscape in one of the hottest places on earth.

Data collected during the BioBlitz will be uploaded through the iNaturalist application, available for free download on most any smartphone. iNaturalist allows anyone to create and upload biological observations which are reviewed and verified by specialists all over the world. Observations collected will provide an important biological snapshot of species present at that moment in time.

Death Valley National Park’s free BioBlitz event will occur in and around Salt Creek on March 12 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Those planning on attending the event should expect temperatures up to the mid-90s during the day and down to the 50s at night. Participants are urged to bring drinking water, a sun hat, sunscreen and closed-toe shoes.

Parking at Salt Creek is limited. Participants are encouraged to ride a free shuttle that departs from Furnace Creek Day Use Area every 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day of the event. Advanced registration is not required for festival activities but is required for those wanting to be on a team with a scientist. Please sign up by March 9.

For more information or registration, please visit http://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/nature/bioblitz.htm, https://www.facebook.com/events/943243465763206/ or email elizabeth_linderman@partner.nps.gov.

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