City Nature Challenge aims to record the region’s biodiversity


SANDPOINT — Are you up for the challenge?

That is to say the City Nature Challenge.

Bonner County was one of 419 sites around the world that participated in the international City Nature Challenge, George Gehrig, one of the organizers of the local event.

Last year, the communities of Bonner County, Boise and Red Lodge, Montana also competed for top honors and won the Northern Rocky Mountain Challenge trophy. The honors went to Red Lodge “in a squeaker,” Gehrig said.

Red Lodge won with 0.26% (28 observers out of 10,725), Bonner County was second with a per capita percentage of 0.13% (56 observers out of 45,739), and Boise was third at 0.05. % (126 participants out of a population of 242, 160).

Bonner County was one of 419 sites that participated in the City Nature Challenge in 2021 and this year the City Nature Challenge Bonner County team wants bragging rights.

After day one of the 2022 Challenge, Bonner County is second with 0.045% to first place Okanagan Valley, which has a per capita percentage of 0.067%.

To win the trophy, Bonner County must record the most people per capita to record at least one sighting using the iNaturalist or Seek apps between April 29 and May 2.

“Let’s bring this trophy home to Bonner County,” Gehrig said. “If we win, the East Bonner County Library will accept it on our behalf.”

So far, 1,312 sightings have been recorded in the first two days of the challenge with 355 species identified with 198 identifiers and 60 observers participating. Some recorded up to 154 sightings and 64 species while others recorded only one sighting and species.

This compares to 1,308 sightings recorded in 2021 with 356 species noted by 58 observers. Prior to the challenge, there had been 3,919 sightings of 1,078 species made by 463 observers, according to data posted on CNCBC’s iNaturalist page.

One of the main goals of the challenges is to increase the number of people using the app and making submissions, said Mike Bauer at the 2021 CNCBC Awards.

“This represents a 24.5% increase in sightings, a 29.9% increase in species identified and an 11.5% increase in observers,” Bauer said. “So definitely the CNCBC had a big effect.”

Participating in the challenge is simple. After downloading the free app, go online to and create an account. To create an account, you must be at least 13 years old, Gehrig said.

Then just head outside and take pictures or plants or wildlife anywhere in the map area. If the plants or animals are not wild, they should be marked as captive or cultivated. The photos are then uploaded to iNaturalist and participants learn more as their photos are tagged by the iNaturalist community.

While the planet’s diverse ecosystems may seem invulnerable and able to withstand anything, a Ted Talk on biodiversity shared by Gehrig indicates that they are in fact vulnerable to collapse.

Biodiversity can help ecosystems stay strong. Biodiversity is made up of three intertwined characteristics, ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. The more interconnections, the more resilient the ecosystems, said Kim Preshoff in the Ted Talk.

While the competition started on Friday, there is still plenty of time to record the region’s biodiversity.

The local challenge organizers – and their mascot Sassy – will be at Pine Street Woods from 9 a.m. to noon today, May 1, and Riley Creek from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Organizers will be at Priest Lake State Park on Monday, May 2. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The challenge – essentially a bioblitz – is a way for residents to team up to register as many species in a designated area within a set amount of time. The makers of iNaturalist said they are a great way to engage the public and get them to connect with their surroundings while gathering useful information for science and conservation.

Still unsure how to participate, Gehrig suggested checking out the Sea-Tac website which has a great training link.

Launched in 2016 for the first-ever Citizen Science Day, it was a way for the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and the California Academy of Sciences to get a sense of the region’s urban biodiversity. and engage in a little friendly rivalry. The eight-day event attracted over 1,000 people and listed around 1,600 species in each location.

The event went national the following year, and in 2018 the event went international.



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