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City Nature Challenge Launches Friday; Public Encouraged to Record Nature Near Their Homes

Media Contact: TPWD News Business Hours, 512-389-8030

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AUSTIN – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) through the Texas Nature Trackers program is inviting Texans to participate in the fifth annual City Nature Challenge, Friday, April 24 through Monday, April 27. This global community-based scientific effort, co-organized by San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, invites current and aspiring citizen scientists of all ages and backgrounds to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist.

Due to the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and its global impact, the 2020 City Nature Challenge will not be a competition. Instead, participants are encouraged to embrace the collaborative aspect of sharing observations online with a digital community, and celebrate the healing power of nature safely, with social distancing, as they document their local biodiversity to the best of their ability within new public safety parameters. It is imperative that participants closely follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines as they are updated in real-time in response to COVID-19.

For the past three years, TPWD through the Texas Nature Trackers program has promoted Texans participation in the City Nature Challenge. In 2019 nearly 3,400 participants contributed over 98,000 observations across 46 counties of over 6,300 species. Seven metropolitan areas in Texas are hosting the City Nature Challenge including: Amarillo, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston-Galveston, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio.  Texans are invited focus on and explore nature in their immediate surroundings: outside their front doors, in their yard, or anywhere nature is found which they can safely and responsibly explore while complying with social distancing and stay-at-home orders where they live.

Texas Nature Trackers is encouraging people to use the hashtag #yardchallenge on social media or as a tag in iNaturalist to share how they are engaging in this year’s event.

Go to www.tpwd.texas.gov/naturechallenge to find links to the Texas projects, and learn more about the global project at https://citynaturechallenge.org/. You can also contact Craig Hensley and Tania Homayoun with the Texas Nature Trackers program at tracker@tpwd.texas.gov with any questions.