Opportunities / Science

iNaturalist Project for Ground Truthing of Wetland Locations

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YOU can take part in this effort and keep a safe 6 ft social distance. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is embarking on increasing the amount of wetland mapping within the Otter, Little Otter, and Lewis Creek watersheds. Recent availability of high-resolution air photos and LIDAR elevation data make it possible to map wetlands via a desktop review to a much finer level than in the past. However, there still needs to be some ground truthing of the new mapping and YOU can help by utilizing the iNaturalist app for your phone or desktop.

Here’s how: The link for the project is https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/otter-creek-tactical-basin-wetland-mapping

When you encounter a wetland within these watersheds, create an iNaturalist observation of any wild organism with your smartphone or GPS enabled camera. Take a photo(s) in which an organism can be identified (you don’t have to know what it is). If you are creative, capture an overall view of the wetland also. Photos can be taken on private properties with permission or from public roads, as well as on public lands and waterways.

iNaturalist screen shot

iNaturalist Tips & Tricks Check out iNaturalist.org; The website has much more info than the app.
✔ Take multiple photos: you can take a second photo that still contains the organism, but also a wider view of the wetland. Photos of multiple parts of a plant (leaves, flowers, and stem), for instance, can help lead to an ID
✔ Take identifiable photos: You want to make sure the ID is verifiable.
✔ Save your data: turn OFF auto-upload in the app settings, and instead upload once you get back to wifi.
Turn off the “Suggest Species” feature, it does not work without good cell phone service.
It’s perfectly ok to post iNat observations that don’t have a photo. Just add all the other information–what you saw, when, and where. Please add a species you observed, not just ‘wetland’.
✔ You can obscure locations of your observations for your privacy, but if you do, please share the true location with this project. Without a location we cannot confirm field verification of the wetland
✔ Unless you specify otherwise, your observations in Vermont will also be added to the Vermont Atlas of Life run by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies! https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/vermont-atlas-of-life

If you have trouble on the website, send user Charlie a message or add a comment including @charlie in the observation page.Thanks to cassi sarri (@bouteloua on inaturalist) for sharing her iNaturalist outreach materials!

The data collected through iNaturalist will provide confirmation of wetland presence at a given location through the identification of the species photographed. The location will be cross referenced with the updated mapping to help ensure better accuracy of wetlands within the Otter Creek Basin.

Example of iNaturalist observation page:

iNaturalist screen shot

You will need to add the observation to the project “Otter Creek Tactical Basin Wetland Mapping” or tag user Charlie by using @charlie in the observation page. To learn more about what area is the Otter Creek Tactical Basin and more about protection and restoration efforts in that region check out: https://dec.vermont.gov/water-investment/watershed-planning/tactical-basin-planning/basin3

Stay save, healthy, and enjoy nature!