April 15, 2020
  • “To see a world in a grain of sand. And a heaven in a wildflower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand. And eternity in an hour…”
    ~William Blake

    yellow flower

    In lieu of prohibited social gatherings and other recreational activities, many have turned to nature to weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting outside is a great way to reduce stress, and indulging one's curiosity is like fresh air to a cooped up mind.

    Now is a perfect time to visit the San Mateo County Parks that have been reopened for trail use and drop-in picnicking. But nature isn't only in parks. It's everywhere, even your own backyard. And while you're discovering the hidden world outside your door, why not contribute to scientific research that helps everyone better understand our world?

    Introducing iNaturalist

    graphic with steps 1, 2,3. Step one has text that reads Record your observation. This includes and image of an insect and a phone taking a picture. Step 2 read Share with Fellow naturalist and shows an image with 3 arrows and three people. Step 3 reads Discuss your findings and shows speech bubbles with insects and ellipsis to represent conversation

    iNaturalist is a free app that is available for download on Android and Apple devices. This app equips you as a citizen scientist to observe and report on any living species you encounter. Try searching your yard, neighborhood, outside your window, or in a San Mateo County Park. Remember to check under rocks, look up in the sky, and even use a magnifying glass if you have one. Use your device to take photos of the species you find, upload them to iNaturalist, and share your discoveries.

    Your photos and observations will be added to an online database where scientists and other nature enthusiasts will help identify your findings. This database is a valuable tool for organizations doing conservation work, such as our Natural Resource Management staff, which allows them to perform desktop resource assessments that supplement their field studies and guide their efforts. With iNaturalist, you're not only learning more about your local parks and neighborhood, you're contributing important data to an ever-growing research resource.

    Check out the San Mateo County Parks Biodiversity Index on iNaturalist and discover the great variety of species that have already been documented.


    Armed with iNaturalist, you will be ready to join a BioBlitz! A BioBlitz is a citizen science event typically hosted in a park or open space where people of all ages come together to discover how many species they can find. San Mateo County Parks usually hosts two BioBlitzes a year in our various parks. We’ve “blitzed” 10 of our parks so far and have observed almost 1,500 species thanks to the diligence of our many participants over the years!