FAQs

What is the City Nature Challenge?
Is this a competition?
What areas are included in the greater Sacramento region?
Wow, that is a really large area. Why is the greater Sacramento region so big?
I am interested in volunteering at one of the Sacramento City Nature Challenge remote events. How do I get involved?
I represent an organization that is interested in supporting the Sacramento City Nature Challenge. How do I get involved?
How do I use iNaturalist?
What if I don’t know what kind of plant or animal I photographed?
What is a bioblitz?
What is an ID party?
I can’t go to any of the scheduled remote events — can I still participate in the challenge?
I’ll be out of town that weekend — can I still participate in the challenge wherever I am?

What is the City Nature Challenge?

The City Nature Challenge began as a nature-observation competition between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County in 2016. Since then, the competition has expanded to over 400 cities worldwide, with the greater Sacramento region joining in 2019! The Center for Community and Citizen Science at the University of California, Davis, as well as California Naturalist and Wild Davis, facilitates our region’s participation. Participants use the iNaturalist app to photograph, catalogue, identify, and organize observations of local wildlife.

Is this a competition?

For the 2021 year, and due to COVID 19, the City Nature Challenge is not a competition. The challenge tracks multiple categories: total number of observations, total number of species identified, and total number of people participating on iNaturalist. For an example, see the 2020 leaderboard. This year’s challenge may also include categories such as: number of new iNaturalist users, number of Research Grade observations, and relative increase in that region’s historical number of observations.

What areas are included in the greater Sacramento region?

The following counties are included in our region. All observations posted to iNaturalist in these regions during the challenge weekend (April 30th – May 3rd) will be counted towards our totals.

  • Amador County
  • El Dorado County
  • Nevada County
  • Placer County
  • Sacramento County
  • San Joaquin County
  • Sutter County
  • Yolo County
  • Yuba County

Wow, that is a really large area. Why is the greater Sacramento region so big?

For several reasons, projects like this are easiest to organize around political boundaries (for reasons related to data tracking and so people know if they are inside or outside the project boundaries). We wanted to include all of the Sacramento urban area and the shape of some of the eastern counties (example: Placer, El Dorado) commit us to rather large areas outside of urban Sacramento. We are actually excited about that fact because it gives us a wide variety of urban and natural ecosystems in which to work, and gives us a better chance at having comparable results with some of the larger, denser metro areas.

I am interested in volunteering at one of the Sacramento City Nature Challenge remote events. How do I get involved?

We have many exciting remote events scheduled and are looking for volunteers. For more information, fill out the pledge and indicate you want to volunteer, or send an email to hello@cncsacramento.com.

I represent an organization that is interested in supporting the Sacramento City Nature Challenge. How do I get involved?

We would love to work with you to organize a remote event, or support the challenge in other ways. For more information, fill out the pledge and indicate you are an organization, or send an email to hello@cncsacramento.com.

How do I use iNaturalist?

Download the iNaturalist app from the App Store or Google Play, or go to iNaturalist.org and create a free account. Then you take pictures of wildlife, or evidence of wildlife – plants, animals, fungi, scat, tracks, shells, etc – and upload them to the iNaturalist app, which records your location and helps you identify the organism you photographed. Detailed directions for using iNaturalist can be found here. Also, check our calendar of remote events for iNaturalist training in your area. Note that iNaturalist tracks wildlife – you should not include pictures of captive animals (pets, animals in zoos, etc) or cultivated plants (houseplants, gardens, landscaping, etc). If you do take photos of these organisms, be sure to indicate if it is captive or cultivated within your observation. Learn more about using iNaturalist.

What if I don’t know what kind of plant or animal I photographed?

No problem! There are several ways to get help with identifying the wildlife you find. First, the iNaturalist app will suggest possible identifications when you upload a photo. You can click through more information about their suggestions to decide if that is what you found. After you upload an observation, other iNaturalist users can also suggest IDs or confirm your choice. Also, in the days following the challenge (May 4th – May 9th), we will hold remote ID parties, which are remote events where local wildlife experts can help you identify the wildlife you found during the challenge. Check out our calendar of remote events for remote ID parties in your area. Note that you can upload an observation to iNaturalist with or without an identification and add or edit the ID later. For example, you can ID your observation simply as ‘spider’ or ‘butterfly’ and get help from the iNaturalist community or experts at a remote ID party and update your observation later with a more detailed identification. Learn more about identifications.

What is a bioblitz?

A bioblitz is an event in which one thoroughly documents wildlife within a particular location, for a given duration. For the 2021 year, and due to COVID 19, the location will be expanded to the entire greater Sacramento region in where we synchronously (but separately) explore nature within our own respective areas and remotely present our findings as a group.

What is an ID party?

An ID party is an event in which we collaboratively learn how to identify wildlife and, subsequently, make identifications on iNaturalist together. For the 2021 year, and due to COVID 19, the ID parties will take place within a remote setting.

I can’t go to any of the scheduled remote events — can I still participate in the challenge?

Absolutely! The remote events are just one option for getting involved. Any observations posted to iNaturalist in the greater Sacramento region during the City Nature Challenge window (April 30th – May 3rd) will count towards our totals.

I’ll be out of town that weekend — can I still participate in the challenge wherever I am?

Yes, though your observations count towards the region in which you make them, so your observations will support another region and not count towards the greater Sacramento region totals. That’s alright, though — we would love for you to get outside and make observations wherever you are. Outside of the greater Sacramento region?