Fall Membership Meeting 2022 & BioBlitz Update

By Franklin Lane

The Pima County Master Naturalist (PCMN) quarterly membership meeting was held on Tuesday, September 13th. Thank you Josh Skattum (C3) for recommending Three Canyon Beer and Wine Garden on Sabino Canyon Rd. It’s a beautiful outdoor venue. Although there were some early light showers to ‘appreciate’, it turned into a lovely evening with a typically stunning Tucson sunset.

Approximately twenty-five members, and some guests, from all cohorts attended the gathering. Special appreciation to those members who traveled from the far west side! Unfortunately, a lot of Chapter business has been conducted electronically of late, so it was nice to be able to connect some new faces with names. The public venue offered good food and beverages, so we didn’t have to impose on anyone to host. And no cleanup!

The business portion of the meeting started with a welcoming from Chapter President Melissa Fratello (C5). Melissa has assumed the role of President a few months early to give Jan Schwartz (C4) a well-deserved break. Thanks Jan for your leadership on the Board of Directors and for your incredible work with cohorts 5 & 6. Deb Petrich (C1) will also be re-assuming oversight of the Chapter’s Volgistics account until a new administrator can be identified. Thank you Dre Hoerr (C3) for your service to our members the last two years. As always, please get your hours in!

ALSO NOTE; the majority of the current Board of Directors is reaching its term limits (December) and the Chapter really needs other members to consider helping with administration. Admin service for the Chapter is easy, rewarding, and ensures that the organization stays relevant. “If not me, who? If not now, when?” Please contact Melissa or any Board Member with your interest.

The remainder of the evening was dedicated to a discussion of the Tortolita Preserve BioBlitz scheduled for a Saturday, November 19th. Dave DeGroot (C2) explained the history of the Preserve, the importance of the joint effort, and PCMN’s partnership with the City of Marana to conduct this first ever biodiversity inventory of the area.

Dave also recently attended a planning meeting at the Preserve Trailhead on Moore Rd. (picture below). The City of Marana was represented by Jay Grodman (Natural Resources Supervisor) and Kim Warner. Other partners include Scott Sprague, Arizona Game and Fish as well as Carolyn Campbell and Jessica Moreno from the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Mark Johnson representing the Tortolita Alliance will handle the advocacy side of the things, allowing PCMN to do what we do best, simply identify the flora and fauna.

Tortolita Preserve Planing Committee, Photo taken by Franklin Lane

INaturalist will be the application used for the BioBlitz. The Preserve has been designated a “Project” within the App. INaturalist is fun and SO EASY, see cheat sheet below. Here is also an online resource on how to use this application. It’s as easy as just downloading the program and you can start practicing in your backyard!

One should also be aware that there is a ‘No Photo’ option within INaturalist. This is helpful for those fast-moving birds and butterflies that can’t be snapped. However, we will need to try to identify them the old-fashioned way! So, bring your field guides. Unfortunately, without photo verification the sighting only receives a ‘casual’ grade.

Marana hopes to have the BioBlitz ‘signup form’ online in early October.  We will get that out to the Chapter as soon as it is available.  In the meantime, Jay Grodman encourages everyone to register as a volunteer here: https://www.maranaaz.gov/volunteer  

It’s a simple process. Just put BioBlitz in the Comments section.

While details are still being sorted, it is anticipated that small groups of participants (armed with INaturalist) will be led through various parts of the Preserve by designated ‘Guides’ familiar with the approximate 9-mile Loop and the area diversity. Several Master Naturalists have already volunteered for these leadership roles.

Kathy Balman (Maricopa Chapter)

Jenna Marvin (C3)

Olivia Carey (C3)

Paul Stillman (C3)

Vicky Ettleman (C3)

Marcia Lambert (C5) 

Dave DeGroot (C2)

Wow Cohort 3 way to go!! If you are familiar with the Preserve and would like to participate as a guide, please let Franklin Lane or Dave DeGroot know. For those members who’d like to be involved but would rather not tromp around the desert, Kathy Sudano (C3) will be looking for folks to staff a Table at the event. Good opportunity to identify those new interns for C7 and/or C8.

The next opportunity for the Chapter to assemble as a community will be for the Annual Membership Meeting in early December.  It will include selection of new Executive Officers:

President-Elect (2024 term), Treasurer and Secretary (2023-24).

Finally, this red spotted toad joined us at the bar and was welcomed by Jan Schwartz (C4), Carrie Barcom (C3) and Angela Seidler (C6). Ever the Naturalists!

Photo taken by Angela Seidler

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