Nathan Daniel—executive director of Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation—and the rest of the TMPF team are preparing for the first of five data collection projects called mini bioblitzes, which are designed to document biodiversity in Truckee Meadows parks. The first bioblitz takes place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Jan. 16, at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, 305 Coretta Way.

Tell me about how the bioblitz will work.

Folks will show up whenever they want. It’s open to the families, the public, anyone. And we will help … those folks go out and help us identify every single species of living thing in the park. … It’s a mini bioblitz because we are not necessarily going to identify to species, everything. That’s tough. That takes some experts, especially when you’re talking about insects. But we will identify as best we can. And the idea is we do this every year, and … it’s a way to judge the health of the park. We’re actually starting a whole series of bioblitzes with Washoe County this year. This will be the first of five. So we’ll do four more bioblitzes in Washoe County Parks. … People will come out, and we will give them the tools they need to go out and explore. So it might be binoculars or these things called aspirators, which we use to suck up insects. … We’ll be with them to help them identify what they’re seeing. And then we’ll conglomerate a list and publish it … and just kind of compare what we’ve seen over the last two years. This will be, I think, the third year we’ve done it. … We’ll be able to see [how things are changing] in the park.

So this will be the third year at MLK Park on MLK Day, too?

Yep. … and the reason why we do it on MLK Day is because … it serves as a national day of service. … We have a lot of AmeriCorps members that serve with us … and in a consortium that we have, where we have members serving at Nevada Land Trust, the Oxbow Nature Study Area, the May Arboretum, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful—those all have AmeriCorps members that are on our grant. So they’re serving at different places, doing education in different ways, but they’re all serving to educate our community on the value of our public lands and doing that through science education.

These experts—what are some of their specializations?

So we have some folks that are entomologists. … So they’ll be looking at insects. And then we have some of the park rangers who will be out there. … And then there’s us from the [TMPF]. We are experts in the natural world. So we know a lot of the species that we’ll see out there. … We can identify all of the plants and animals we’ll see out there.

Will people be surprised by the amount of life they see in the middle of winter?

They will—assuming there’s no snow. If there’s a lot of snow, we’ll see less. If there’s no snow, we’ll see a whole bunch of insects [and] spiders … and all sorts of critters crawling around, especially by the time noon comes around. We’ll probably see a lot of different bird species. … We could see coyotes, which we’ve seen running around. … You’d be impressed by how many different species you see out there, and there’s a whole bunch of different plants that are there that are in different stages of their cycle.