Commission Agenda Item No. 9
Presenter: Dr. Tania Homayoun

The Texas Nature Trackers Program and the City Nature Challenge
March 25, 2021

I.       Executive Summary: The Texas Nature Trackers (TNT) Program within the Wildlife Diversity Program of the Wildlife Division supports local participation in the global City Nature Challenge community science event. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff will present results from the 2020 event in Texas and an update on plans for the 2021 event.

II.      Discussion:  The TNT Program coordinates with local communities throughout the state to generate community science data on plants and wildlife. The City Nature Challenge is a four-day global BioBlitz that engages people with nature in and around metropolitan areas. In the first three years of the event, Texas’ engagement in the City Nature Challenge grew from three metro areas to eight metro areas, with both the number of observations logged and number of participants nearly doubling. The TNT staff leads and guides the generation of data that are used to identify new populations and new habitats, reclassify species of concern based on the availability of new data, and direct targeted research with taxonomic leads.  Meanwhile, volunteers get to contribute data to science, spend time outdoors, and in some instances, use their knowledge to seek out new populations and document rare findings.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 event was a world-wide collaborative effort rather than the competition of years past, focused on connecting people to the restorative power of nature right outside their doors. While observing social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the TNT staff completely reorganized the event with 30 days’ notice.  As a result, the TNT staff, partners, and volunteers increased the number of observations generated. In four days, these staff, partners, and volunteers produced more than 101,000 observations of over 6,400 species made by 3,400 people across 45 Texas counties. Relative to the 2019 event, the number of participants increased between 10 percent and 32 percent across the seven metro areas, highlighting the need and demand for access to high-quality nature experiences and the interest in contributing to the science of wildlife conservation. This year’s event will host 14 project areas participating in Texas, increasing coverage to 78 Texas counties (approximately 30 percent of Texas counties), broadening opportunities for both participation and data collection.

Attachment – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Project Map

Commission Agenda Item No. 9
Exhibit A

Counties Included in the 2021 Texas City Nature Challenge iNaturalist Projects