‘Bioblitz’ Aims to Map, Identify Native Plants in Reston’s Open Space

Reston Association is turning to crowdsourcing in the effort to map and identify native plants and uncommon wildlife.

Patricia Greenberg, RA’s environmental resource supervisor, says work has been done in the past 18 to 24 months to assess 800 acres of open space for abundance of invasive species and encroachment on natural areas. She says with the help of the community, much more can be done.

The community’s help is being enlisted through a free smartphone app called iNaturalist. By signing up for the Reston Bioblitz group within the app, information users provide regarding plants and wildlife in Reston will be shared with RA’s Environmental Resource Department as they work to map the area’s natural landscape.

“Volunteers can help by mapping and identifying the sensitive or rare native plants and wildlife that exist throughout Reston,” Greenberg said. “Mapping these special natives will help determine where staff should focus their work to suppress invasive plants and protect native species.”

Work done at the sites prioritized through the mapping effort will include removing invasive plants, installing and protecting native species, and restoring habitat throughout Reston’s woods.

Greenberg said anyone who is willing to snap photos for the app is able to participate in the project. No expertise is required, as any photos that are uploaded can be examined and identified through the app by a naturalist.

“We’re asking for people to get this app on their phone, take a walk in Reston, see plants or wildflowers, and take photos through the app,” she said. “I’m hoping to have a great reaction and a lot of feedback and involvement.”

Greenberg said similar efforts in Arlington, Alexandria and the National Park Service have been successful. She also said her department works with Fairfax County’s Master Naturalists to gather such information, but more help is always a good thing.

“Basically, we’re just trying to get people out and about,” she said. “It takes a certain type of person.”

For more information about the Bioblitz effort, contact Greenberg at [email protected] or 703-435-6552.

Top photo courtesy Reston Association; screencap via iNaturalist app

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