Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Urban BioBlitz connects people to the outdoors

Boy catching butterflies with net
A BioBlitz attendee participates in the survey efforts through sweep-netting; photo courtesy of the Milwaukee Public Museum. USDA Forest Service photo.

WISCONSINUSDA Forest Service Eastern Region participated in the Milwaukee Public Museums’ Bioblitz, a 24-hour celebration of biodiversity, where scientists and citizens work together to see how many species of plants and animals they can find in one area.

In addition to observing 91 surveyors and scientists from over 27 organizations, including Forest Service Regional Botanist Sierra Dawkins, the 150 attendees were invited to participate in pond-scooping, sweep-netting, hiking and nature activities provided by Bioblitz partners. Over 1,254 taxa were tallied in the surveys, a new Bioblitz record!

In the educational outreach tent, the Forest Service staffed a booth where children could learn about skulls and furs of animals found in the national forests, make a craft or try their hand at a quiz game meant to increase their awareness of the natural world around them. Other activities in the tent included live animals and hands on experiences led by Havenwoods State Forest, Mequon Nature Preserve, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Wehr Nature Center and Urban Ecology Center.  

Each year the Milwaukee Public Museum choses a new site for the Bioblitz, thereby increasing the understanding of biodiversity in Wisconsin. This years’ event was held at the Riveredge Nature Center, just north of Milwaukee in Saukville, Wisconsin.

The Eastern Region’s Urban Connections program is based on a simple idea: reaching out to urban communities and building alliances to compliment the Forest Service mission of “Caring for the Land and Serving People.” The Eastern Region has nine of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, making it uniquely positioned to connect with diverse and underserved citizens. Urban Connections partners with other government agencies, interested citizens, urban leaders, interagency partners, nonprofit organizations and non-government organizations to expand the Forest Service’s reach to benefit the public in major metropolitan areas. The Urban Connections Program currently works within the communities of Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Chicago and Detroit.

Family learns about forest service from employee
Milwaukee Urban Connections Coordinator Jean Claassen shares natural resource information with visitors to the Forest Service booth at the BioBlitz; photo courtesy of Milwaukee Public Museum. USDA Forest Service photo.