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Park Service invites ‘citizen scientists’ to explore lakes’ biodiversity

The National Park Service is looking for science-minded residents to become biodiversity experts for a day in its quest to discover wildlife at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Scientists and trained volunteers will lead Saturday’s BioBlitz, in which people of all ages and backgrounds will “work together to compile a ‘snapshot’ of biodiversity,” the National Park Service announced.

BioBlitz events will be held at Boulder Beach at Lake Mead, as well as at Lake Mohave at the Pyramid Canyon Day Use Area in Laughlin.

“Citizen scientists will count and identify plant and animal species found within Lake Mead NRA using the Inaturalist app, cameras and field guides,” the park service wrote in a release. Observations will be used to inspire people to “get out and find their park.”

Park service spokeswoman Christie Vanover said Inaturalist is smartphone application that allows people to turn on their GPS coordinates, take photos of plants and animals and upload them to a Lake Mead-run database so other people can learn about Nevada’s ecosystems from anywhere in the world.

The event, which Vanover said is the first of its kind in recent history at Lake Mead, is part of a national initiative to connect residents with the wildlife and vegetation in their local parks.

Orientation for the event at Boulder Beach will be held at the top of every hour between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and each session will be followed by an optional group discovery walk. Activities are scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon at Pyramid Canyon.

Fifty people had signed up as of March 11, but Vanover said the Park Service can accommodate as many as 250 people.

To reserve a spot, call Nancy Bernard at 702-293-8714 or email nancy_bernard@nps.gov. Volunteers can also register at www.getoutdoorsnevada.org.

Contact Kimber Laux at klaux@bouldercityreview.com or 702-586-9401. Find her on Twitter: @lauxkimber

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