City Nature Challenge

Broad-reaching science depends on diverse community participation.

Community science has been happening ever since humans could communicate, though in recent years the tools we use and our ability to share and communicate information have exploded! Community science relies on non-professional scientists and community members to contribute to crowd-sourced data collection and analysis. Our collective observations of plants and animals create an important global record of biodiversity and changes in our environment, thus using the power of the many to answer some of the biggest questions we face today.

You do not need to have scientific training to contribute to our understanding of the natural world; the study of nature is for everyone. We seek to provide community science opportunities through our own Pima County Master Naturalist projects and those of our partners. These projects aim to connect people to nature and to protect local diversity, all while supporting a growing community of local naturalists. We want to emphasize that everyone in the community is encouraged to participate in these endeavors; community science benefits from the diverse viewpoints, traditions, and skills of everyone in our community.

City Nature Challenge in Pima County

Pima County Master Naturalists is hosting the 2022 City Nature Challenge in Pima County, Arizona. Be a part of this community science project by participating in this worldwide effort to document the amazing biodiversity of our region.

April 29th through May 2nd– Search for WILD plants, animals, and other creatures to see how many species you can find and show the world how diverse our region is. Add your observations to iNaturalist and they’ll automatically be included in the project.

May 3rd through 8th– Finish any last uploads and identify all of the observations in the project. Let’s see how many we can get to research grade!

Join the Pima County City Nature Challenge project on iNaturalist to get updates and see the events being held in Pima County for the 2022 City Nature Challenge. We will add them as they are confirmed. Visit the main City Nature Challenge website to learn more about the event and to see the list of the 400+ cities participating in 2022! Joining the project is easy:

  1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your mobile device. iNaturalist is a community-powered website and app that makes it easy to upload and share your observations in the field and to get help from other users with flora and fauna IDs.
  2. During April 29 – May 2, take photos to make observations of wild plants and animals in your house, your backyard, a park, your neighborhood – anywhere you find nature and can maintain safe social distancing. Check out this guide for finding nature in and around your home for ideas of where to look for species. Be sure to mark the observation as captive/cultivated if it’s not a wild organism!
  3. Upload your photos to iNaturalist. They will be automatically added to the Pima County City Nature Challenge project. Note that only photos taken in the April 29 – May 2 time range within the project boundaries of Pima County will be added.
  4. Learn more as your finds get identified, and feel free to help ID other people’s observations, especially during the May 3 -8 identification period.
  5. Results will be announced on Monday, May 9th!
Please help us spread the word about the City Nature Challenge! Share our Tucson CNC Facebook event.

City Nature Challenge Events

In Advance of the City Nature Challenge:

NEW!!! Check out a Community Science Kit at the Pima County Public Library (Joel D Valdez Main Library or Richard Elías-Mission Library). There are three kits available: 1. Exploring Biodiversity, 2. Measuring Light in the Night, and 3. Observing Pollinators. The biodiversity and pollinator kits are perfect to get you ready for and to participate in the City Nature Challenge!

Family Nature Photography: Feliz Paseos Park
Saturday, March 19, 2022 / 10 am – 12 noon
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

Bioblitz: Introduction to iNaturalist
Friday, April 1, 2022 / 7:00 – 8:00 pm / on Zoom
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

Pima County Parks Bioblitz: Agua Caliente Park
Saturday, April 2, 2022 / 7:00 – 10:30 am (daytime critters) AND 7:00 – 10:00 pm (nighttime critters)
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

Bioblitz: Introduction to iNaturalist
Friday, April 8, 2022 / 7:00 – 8:00 pm / on Zoom
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

Pima County Parks Bioblitz: Historic Canoa Ranch
Saturday, April 9, 2022 / 7:00 – 10:30 am (daytime critters) AND 7:00 – 10:00 pm (nighttime critters)
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

Teacher Professional Development Workshop: Conducting a Bioblitz for the City Nature Challenge
Saturday, April 9th, 2022 🌎 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Water Resources Research Center 🌎 350 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson
Click here for more information and to register
This paid workshop will prepare you to utilize iNaturalist with your students to conduct a bioblitz on your school campus, at a local park, or other green space during the City Nature Challenge, April 29 – May 2.

Family Nature Photography: Agua Caliente Park
Saturday, April 9, 2022 / 10 am – 12 noon
Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

SARSEF Series: Using iNaturalist for Student Research
Wednesday, April 13, 2022 / 4-5 pm
Click here to learn more and register in advance for this meeting
Join SARSEF and the Arizona Master Naturalists for a presentation and discussion about using iNaturalist, a community science app, as a tool for student research.

Intro to iNaturalist for the City Nature Challenge
Saturday, April 16, 2022 / 10 am – 12 noon
Tohono Chul Park

SARSEF Series: iNaturalist and the National Phenology Network: Recording Biodiversity
Tuesday, April 19, 2022 / 4-5 pm
Click here to register in advance for this meeting
The upcoming City Nature Challenge is a global effort to document biodiversity and learn more about the species that live among us, particularly in urban areas. SARSEF and the Arizona Master Naturalists will host Theresa Crimmins, Director for the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), for a presentation about using community science resources to document and learn about biodiversity and phenology (the timing of seasonal life cycle events).

Join Reid Park Zoo on Zoom to learn about Earth Day and the City Nature Challenge while meeting a special animal guest who calls Pima County home! Free, though registration is required.
Saturday, April 23 / 1 pm
Reid Park Zoo

SARSEF Series: How Community Science Data is Used in Research
Tuesday, April 26, 2022 / 4-5 pm
Click here for more information and to register in advance for this meeting
The upcoming City Nature Challenge in Pima County will use iNaturalist as the online platform to participate. In this presentation, you will learn how scientists use data from iNaturalist and other community science platforms in their research.

During the City Nature Challenge:

Join Pima County Master Naturalist Jenna Marvin to explore as you hike and document wild creatures (plants, animals, fungi, etc.) to add to iNaturalist for the City Nature Challenge. Bring your smartphone or camera with an SD card to take photos. Bring plenty of water! Save your place in advance by emailing Jenna at SonoranNature@gmail.com
1. Pima Canyon Trailhead, 1915 E Magee Rd, Tucson, AZ 85718
Friday, 4/29, 7:30 am to no later than noon (ending time TBD by the group, depending on weather)
Pima Canyon has no toilet or water.
2. Sweetwater Preserve Trailhead (not Sweetwater Wetlands), 4001 N Tortolita Rd, Tucson, AZ 85745
Saturday, 4/30, 7:30 am to no later than 10 am (ending time TBD by the group, depending on weather)
Sweetwater Preserve has a porta potty, but no water.
3. Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Sunday, 5/1, 8:15 am to no later than noon (ending time TBD by the group, depending on weather)
Colossal Cave Mountain Park has a vault toilet and water.
[Directions: From East Tucson – Take 22nd Street to Old Spanish Trail and turn south, follow it about 17 miles to the Park entrance. From I-10 take exit 279 (the Vail/Wentworth exit), turn north on Colossal Cave Road and follow the signs for about 7 miles to the Park entrance. When you enter the Park, bear right and follow signs to Posta Quemada Ranch. Follow the paved but rough road and go through the La Posta Quemada entrance. Meet at the Cowboy Statue and Picnic Area which is just before you get to La Posta Quemada Ranch buildings.]

BioBlitz Challenge: Desert Museum Style!– Saturday, April 30, 2022 (Share this event on Facebook)
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Tumamoc Hill Bioblitz – City Nature Challenge at the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill
Sunday, May 1 from 6:30 am to 11:30 am, Register here!
We’ll have a base of operations for questions and ID help at the Tumamoc Boathouse, which is on the west side of the road just beyond the gate. No pets or smoking is allowed on the field station site.

Tohono Chul’s BioBlitz / 2022 City Nature Challenge– Sunday, May 1, 2022 / 9 am – 12 noon
Tohono Chul Park

City Nature Challenge with Reid Park Zoo– Sunday, May 1, 2022 / 9 am – 12 noon
Team up with Reid Park Zoo staff to observe and document as many uncultivated (wild) living things as we can for the City Nature Challenge. After a short time in the Zoo, we will move into neighboring Reid Park to make even more observations. Free event but Zoo admission is required to enter the Zoo, and registration is required for this event.

Community Partners

The 2022 Pima County City Nature Challenge is organized by The Pima County Master Naturalists in conjunction with the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. We’re fortunate to partner with incredible organizations across Pima County for the City Nature Challenge! These partners help us get the word out, hold events, and make the City Nature Challenge the fun and educational 4-day nature bioblitz that it is. Click the links below to learn more about our partners.

Arizona Native Plant Society

Arizona Project WET

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Cooper Center for Environmental Learning

Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium

Friends of Madera Canyon

Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona

Mission Garden

Pima County Natural Resources

Pima County Public Library

Reid Park Zoo

REI Tucson

Saguaro National Park

SARSEF

Tohono Chul Park

Tucson Audubon Society

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tumamoc Desert Laboratory

UA Laboratory of Tree Ring Research

UA Women in Science & Engineering

How to Participate in CNC in Light of COVID-19

As a participant, it is up to you how much or how little you take part! Do only what feels safe for you & your family. It is imperative that you follow all government regulations and guidelines, though.

We’re not sure yet what we’ll be able to do by the end of April. But since we’re still able to get outside, let’s try to enjoy & document nature in whatever ways we feel we can. Being outside can also help to lower stress levels and increase overall feelings of well-being, so take care of yourselves by being in nature if you’re able to. Here are some suggestions, and check out our guide to exploring nature around your home:

Indoors:

– Did you know that there are on average 93 species of arthropods living in houses?

– What can you find in your house? What can you see through your windows?

– Focus on identifications! Once the CNC starts, help identify what’s being found in Pima County.

– During May 3-8, hold virtual ID parties with your friends!

In Backyards:

– Put up bird feeders or moth lights, or put down cover boards to bring nature to you!

– What are the wild plants growing in your yard?

– What insects or other creatures are using the cultivated plants in your yard as habitat or a food source?

Outside of your home and backyard:

– Wear a mask and practice social distancing wherever you go.

– Make observations on your own or with your family in local parks and open spaces.

– Think about making observations along sidewalks, pavements, roads, or in residential areas if local parks are too crowded for social distancing. Always be mindful of traffic.

Stay safe, hang in there, and we can’t wait to see what you find – in your houses, in your backyards, along sidewalks, in parks – and know that people all around the world are joining you in documenting nature in whatever way they can during these times.

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