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The BLM hopes to get more help from ‘citizen scientists’

Citizen scientists with the Carthage Institute of Paleontology winterize a field study site in 2022
Megan Seitz
/
BLM
Citizen scientists with the Carthage Institute of Paleontology winterize a field study site in 2022

The Bureau of Land Management is hoping to enlist the help of more members of the public in its scientific and research efforts.

Last month the agency released its five-year Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Action Plan. Nikki Grant-Hoffman, a BLM education specialist and was the plan’s lead author, said citizen science is “just any time that the general public, that the people, are involved in some aspect of a scientific endeavor.”

Citizen science work already happens at the agency. For example, at the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area in Colorado, high school environmental science students have helped monitor and eradicate invasive Russian knapweed (for details, see pages 23-24 of the plan). One purpose of the plan is to help the agency “instill citizen science as a standard practice across the BLM,” the document reads.

The agency oversees some 245 million acres.

“Just given the sheer number of acres that we manage, this kind of participation really amplifies the amount of work that we can get done and the amount of information that we can have to make our management decisions,” Grant-Hoffman said.

The spread of smartphones, which can capture quality photos and location data, have been a boon to citizen science efforts, according to Grant-Hoffman.

“Having all of that available just on your phone really makes the amount of data that you can collect, and the data quality that you expect with minimal training, just much different than it would have been in previous times,” she said.

For those interested in participating in citizen science efforts, Grant-Hoffman suggested reaching out to your local BLM office to see what projects may be underway.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Hey everyone! I’m Murphy Woodhouse, Boise State Public Radio’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter.