TUCSON, Ariz. (June 15, 2010)—Saguaro National Park, bordering Tucson, Ariz., has been named as the host site for the 2011 National Park Service/National Geographic BioBlitz, scheduled for Oct. 21 and 22, 2011. Part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom, BioBlitz is a two-day celebration of biodiversity centered on a 24-hour race to count species. During the BioBlitz, teams of scientists, school children and the general public work together to find and identify as many species as possible.
“We are excited that Saguaro National Park will host the 2011 BioBlitz,” said Saguaro National Park Superintendent Darla Sidles. “This event will offer a great opportunity for thousands of people in the greater Tucson area to explore and learn about species across the park’s mountains, cactus forests and riparian areas like never before.”
This will be the fifth BioBlitz that National Geographic and the National Park Service are presenting as a lead-up to the Service’s centennial in 2016. A different national park is being selected each year. The 2010 BioBlitz took place in Florida’s Biscayne National Park on April 30 and May 1, when thousands of people, including more than 1,300 school children and more than 150 scientists, identified over 800 species, including several not previously documented in the park. The first BioBlitz was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., in 2007, followed by Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California in 2008 and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 2009.
BioBlitz is a way for communities to learn about the biological diversity of local parks and to understand the need to protect them. It is an opportunity for volunteers of all ages to take part in bona fide field research and learn from experts about biodiversity in their own communities.
“BioBlitz is a unique opportunity for top scientists and the general public to do field work together,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for research, conservation and exploration. “Through BioBlitz, the park gets a biodiversity checkup, but more importantly we all better understand our unique role in the natural systems where we live.”
Established in 1933, Saguaro National Park protects an incredible example of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. The park features exceptional stands of saguaro cactus, critical rare riparian areas, unique wildlife habitat and impressive desert mountain ranges. The park’s landscape is dotted with archaeological sites, historical remnants and places of importance for American Indians. Saguaro National Park is located adjacent to Tucson and consists of two districts that border the city on the east and west. More than 70,000 of the park’s 91,445 acres are designated wilderness. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/sagu.
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 375 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,200 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.