La Jollans asked to join City’s Nature Challenge

Between birds soaring overhead, critters living in tidepools and pinnipeds lounging on the beach, a day at La Jolla’s coastline provides expansive glimpses of nature. Not to mention the landscapes and treescapes that vegetate town and La Jolla’s biodiverse hillsides.

That’s why the City of San Diego and the San Diego Natural Historical Museum are encouraging La Jollans to participate in the City Nature Challenge, an international app-based competition starting midnight Friday, April 27 and ending 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 30. The goal is to see which city can record the most observations of their local flora and fauna over a four-day period with the free iNaturalist app.

Locally, there will be a workshop for interested citizen scientists to learn how to use the app and make observations: 4 p.m. Friday, April 13 at La Jolla Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Similarly, the San Diego State University Natural History Club is sponsoring an observation-making excursion to La Jolla Shores to record the grunion run, 10:15 p.m. Sunday, April 29.

Natural History Museum Vice President of Engagement and Education Beth Redmond-Jones said La Jolla is an “important part of San Diego with some amazing natural resources,” and that these recordings will help scientists track local wildlife in the future.

“The premise is to see which city can document the most species. It’s providing a way for our scientists to have community’s help in documenting the species that are in the wild and in the city,” she said. “We have several endemic species (plants and animals that exist only in one geographic area) in this region, but with the increase in population and urbanization, the places where this wildlife can live decreases. We want (participants) to look at what is here, what is declining and if there are invasive species coming in. By doing the challenge, participants record data for our scientists … which helps us identify areas where we might need more research due to climate change or development.”

As for the observations that count in the City Nature Challenge, she said recordings of wild animals such as squirrels, skunks, birds, insects, pinnipeds, fish, tidepool creatures will be accepted, but not of domesticated animals or pets.

“These animals go place to place, and San Diego is part of a migratory path, so we want to track those things,” Redmond-Jones said.

Other observations include seashells, sand dollars, ocean plants visible during low tide, plants and trees that are not grown in gardens, and wild brush. Just no potted plants or cultivated vegetables. But the plant life at places like the Torrey Pines State Reserve, she said, “Go for it.”

The winning City gets bragging rights over the other 60 from across the globe that are participating. Houston, Texas was the winning City last year.

“I try to make people know that nature is all around us. It’s in our yards and up and down the street. So take a walk, see some nature,” Redmond-Jones said.

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