BioBlitz at David Dana Forest
By Tom Banit
This October, members of the Dalton Conservation Commission conducted the second BioBlitz of the year at the Forest Society’s David Dana Forest in Dalton, NH.
What is a BioBlitz one might ask? It involves volunteers using their cell phones linked to a University of New Hampshire project on the iNaturalist app to identify and record the variety of fauna in the state, and in this case, on the Dana Forest.
Anything living (or evidence of anything living)- trees, flowers, insects, frogs, mushrooms, and even slime molds- is recorded and an identification attempted, via experts on site or through the iNaturalist app. This process aids both the Forest Society and the state in their study of current biodiversity and serves as a baseline for future changing conditions. It also serves as a model for the Forest Society working with local conservation groups to cooperate in better understanding local forest conditions and planning for the future.
The BioBlitz was initiated by Jon Swan, chair of the Dalton Conservation Commission. He first proposed the program a year ago and then Forest Society staff developed a plan for the first BioBlitz (held in Spring 2023) at Dana Forest. The same process was employed for this autumnal effort.
Team members for the fall BioBlitz included Carol Sheltry, Nancy Comeau and Dr. Ginny Jeffreys. Notably, Dr. Jeffreys has studied mushrooms for over twenty years and added important insight into the day’s activity.
Tom Banit, Volunteer Land Steward for Dana Forest, guided the study group ranging from the apple orchard and open fields, along the Lower Ox Team Road, up the Gold Mine Trail mountainside path to Dana Forest’s historic mine site, and then along the Main Trail to end the study at the forest’s parking area. Moving along slowly allowed people to observe and gather much important data and discuss their findings along the way.
The result of these two “expeditions” includes several hundred records of various plants, animals and fungi being stored at the University of New Hampshire and in Forest Society files.
Moreover, the Forest Society has now established an effective ongoing process for involving local conservation groups to complete BioBlitz events on their conservation lands. Local groups interested in pursuing their own BioBlitz can look for resources at this UNH Cooperative Extension website and contact Carrie Deegan at the Forest Society if their BioBlitz includes Forest Society lands.