We are excited to announce a new virtual citizen-science project at Bays Mountain Park! Using the iNaturalist app, we have begun an undertaking to locate and identify flowering plants found at the park. This will give opportunities for everyone to contribute to a science project that we hope will provide valuable information to naturalists, managers, visitors and researchers for many years to come.

Using the iNaturalist app or website allows users to upload observations of plants, animals, fungi and protozoans found worldwide. It’s easy and free to use—all you have to do is set up an account. Normally, these observations are recorded as photos or audio recordings. You’ll then be able to add a location and identification. Don’t know what it is? This app can tell you! With a good clear photo, the artificial intelligence algorithm can provide identification suggestions for what you have found. Photos showing flowers are usually easiest to identify, but leaves and other parts can work as well. Other users may confirm or change those initial findings. These community observations provide a trove of data that is accessible by anyone.

We have set up the Wildflowers of Bays Mountain Park Project within iNaturalist so that we can track all observations of flowering plants for the park. It’s easy to join in! Here’s a step-by-step:

  1. Sign up for a free account on iNaturalist.org
  2. Photograph a plant at Bays Mountain or Laurel Run
  3. Upload that photo and other information to iNaturalist, using either the app or their website

To see what you and other citizen scientists contribute, visit the Bays Mountain Park Project page here. We hope to start other Projects to track other groups of organisms. There are always new things to see, and this is a great way to you to get involved as we track the changing life of the park!