Citizen Scientist opportunities to conduct field research

Volunteers working with Park researchers are learning to identify leaves of ash trees in order locate these trees for mapping purposes.

Volunteers working with Park researchers are learning to identify leaves of ash trees in order locate these trees for mapping purposes.

Last year over 50 Citizen Scientist volunteers helped researchers collect scientific data on ash trees by mapping the locations of hundreds of these trees in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The mapping project, which will take several years to complete, will be used to monitor future threats from a nonnative insect. People are again being invited to join Park biologists and educators during a field day on Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Greenbrier area of the Park. Volunteers will learn how to identify ash and other common trees found in the Smoky Mountains, read a topographic map, and use a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit.

The ash trees are at risk from the invasive, non-native Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a beetle that can travel undetected in firewood and nursery stock from quarantined areas of the country into new locations in the Park. This is the first of seven ash tree mapping days through the summer and fall that will be held in the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the Park. Other dates planned are June 9, July 31, Aug. 28, Sept. 11 and 25, and Oct. 2. These are listed in the Events Calendar on the Park’s website: www.nps.gov/grsm.

Volunteers should be prepared to hike up to 5 miles on Park trails and in rough terrain off the main paths. It is recommended that participants wear long pants and comfortable closed-toe shoes or boots for hiking and bring snacks, water, sunscreen, and rain gear. Reservations are necessary and participation is limited to 16 people (children 12 and under must bring an adult). Contact Ranger Susan Simpson at 865-436-1200, ext. 762, to RSVP and for meeting location.

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