Hot Springs, NC residents & visitors join the county in the BioBlitz documenting 1150 species in 2 weeks!

Working together with experts, a major biological inventory of Madison County was made.

Huckleberry Sphinx Moth

Huckleberry Sphinx Moth

Hot Springs, NCMadison Natural Heritage, a natural history program of the Madison County Public Library System, and local conservation organization, MountainTrue, partnered to host the citizen science countywide biological inventory June 6-20, 2020. You can see the results here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/madison-county-2020-bioblitz . Over the two week period from June 6-20, participants, many in Hot Springs, uncovered several rare and important organisms, even a few which were discovered in the county for the first time during the effort.

A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. The primary goal is to get an overall count of the plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms that live in a place. These experiences help to develop a relationship between the land and the people who live there. As people learn about the living things that share their space, they better understand the interrelationships that exist between species and the events that can impact an area. They may also become advocates for the protection and preservation of the diverse wildlife of the region.

Socially Distanced BioBlitz gathering around Purple Martin Nests at Broadwing Farms

Socially Distanced BioBlitz gathering around Purple Martin Nests at Broadwing Farm

“This event succeeded beyond all our hopes, and for the same reason the Public Library System in Madison County is so successful – great people working together” explains Pete Dixon, a Madison County Public Library Trustee. “There were professional biologists racking up hundreds of species across the county at breakneck speed, and on the other end of the spectrum, you have Zoe York and Elsa Adamson, youngsters turning up a Cobra Clubtail Dragonfly, which was one of the more rare and interesting finds of the entire project. There was support from Mars Hill Friends, Madison County Friends and Hot Springs Friends, and with the organization and network of MountainTrue, the event really took off.”

Youth participants included: Ella Jameson, Henry and Milo Svendsen, Zoe and Anabelle York, Skylee and Aurora Schomber, Joey Geyer Nelson, Elsa Adamson, Trevor Woods, Owen and Aleah Stauffer, Reed Carney, Cade and Silas Vogler and Ezra Penland.

Ring-necked Snake

Ring-necked Snake

MountainTrue Biologist and Madison County native Josh Kelly said this: “The participation in the Madison County Bioblitz has been spectacular, from world-renowned experts to beginning naturalists. I never would have guessed that more than 80 people would have submitted nearly 2,500 photo observations and that over 280 people would help to identify them. The number of species and the number of rare species observed was impressive. Madison County really is a biological “Jewel of the Blue Ridge” and is full of people that appreciate that.”

“I am thrilled with the success of our inaugural event. Our goal was to encourage as many residents as possible to step outside their doors and explore their own backyard and some of the untouched areas of the county where our rich biodiversity is waiting to be appreciated,” says Madison County Library Director Kim Bellofatto. “Not only did our participants contribute to the body of biological knowledge of the area, but these types of citizen science experiences also bring the academic study of science to life for our children in a way that cannot be duplicated in a classroom. We hope that this will be the first of many public events for the Madison Natural Heritage program. I appreciate the efforts of the many hands that made this event such an incredible success.”

Diana Fritillary - butterfly (Large)

A beautiful Diana Fritillary butterfly.

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Madison Natural Heritage is a public library project that is intended to engage students, scholars and citizens to collect and archive data about our rich and cherished natural world in Madison County. The Madison County 2020 BioBlitz was the first major milestone in a project which aims to enlist the power of the community to document the rich natural history of Madison County.

MountainTrue is a regional conservation nonprofit that champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities. The organization’s members and volunteers work to protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all. MountainTrue is active in the Broad, French Broad, Green, Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, New, and Watauga watersheds, and is home to the Broad Riverkeeper, French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper, and Watauga Riverkeeper. More info at mountaintrue.org.

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