On April 27th, The James B Harrison Foundation along with the Fort Bend County 4H Program and the Texas Master Naturalist Coastal Prairie Chapter participated in the 2019 City Nature Challenge at JBH Long Point Ranch in Richmond.
The City Nature Challenge began in 2016 with a competition between San Francisco and Los Angeles and has now grown to 160 metro areas worldwide. To participate in this challenge, participants made and shared nature observations using the iNaturalist smartphone app. A nature observation could include a photo of an animal, bird, butterfly, plant, or any other sign of life. The iNaturalist app assists by suggesting an ID based on photo recognition, then the iNaturalist online community helps to accurately identify the species by agreeing with an identification or giving a better suggestion. The data generated from iNaturalist is publicly available to help researchers, land managers, and even policy makers.
The City Nature Challenge was open to participants of all ages and skill levels, as it’s designed for both new and experienced citizen scientists. During this year’s competition, the city of Houston made a total of 24,534 observations. Houston took the lead as the Wildest City in Texas, with the most number of species observed. During the challenge Houston recorded a total of 3286 species observed. This ranked Houston 3rd worldwide!
In Texas, nine regions competed for the title of the Wildest City in Texas. These nine regions included: Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston, Lower Rio Grande Valley, Port Aransas, and San Antonio. The Houston region consists of nine counties: Harris, Galveston, Chambers, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Austin.
During our City Nature Challenge event at JBH Long Point, we had 2 sites designated for the challenge. The first nature stop on our JBH Retreat Green People Hauler Route, was out at our Rookery. Our rookery is a common nesting ground for Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Roseate Spoonbills. Our second nature stop was located by our Horseshoe Pond. As an added bonus, at our second nature stop, challengers had an opportunity to get their hands dirty making native seed bombs (balls) and learning about the importance of native plants.
We’d like to thank our local Texas Master Naturalist Coastal Prairie Chapter for coming out and joining us for a fun day in nature! We look forward to hosting the City Nature Challenge again in 2020.