Technology on the Trail

Winnakee Land Trust
Summer 2017 eNewsletter

Useful Conservation Tech Tools?
By John Mickelson, Land Stewardship Manager

Social critics refer to the implements of our digital age as “weapons of mass distraction”. Simultaneously, the effectiveness of conservation science depends strongly on the digital domain. Satellites and flown sensors measure insect impacts on fruit trees and track the locations of migrating leatherback turtles, in near-real time.

As of 2015, more than 68% of the US population own smart phones, up from 35% just in 2011. Sadly, we’ve all suffered the heartbreak of watching people sit at a restaurant glued to their devices, seemingly isolated from those sitting across the table. But these remarkable pocket computers hold immense promise as conservation tools, helping lead adults and children as well, back *out* into our natural world.

The Winnakee Land Trust is hosting a BioBlitz at our Nature Preserve, in Hyde Park (Aug 19 and 20) . We are designing the day to leverage the place-based, image capture and database capabilities of the modern-day smartphone and the “app” iNaturalist. “ is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world. Hikers, hunters, birders, beach-combers, and all sorts of naturalists record what they find outdoors. What if all those observations could be shared online? If enough people recorded their observations, it would be like a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that anyone could use to learn more about nature. “

We see iNaturalist as a wonderful opportunity to foster greater participation in the WLT Nature Preserve, via the development of a volunteer Preserve Corp. We also see it as a tool to help people learn from, engage with and more deeply connect with the natural world. We encourage you to save the date for August 19 and 20 and to register to participate within the weekend event. We are delighted to have some of the best naturalists within the region to serve as guides and the day will have apple opportunity to learn more about using digital data recorders and cell phones as field survey and data capture tools. The day will see wildlife and bird demonstrations including visits by live animals.

Please call with any questions about this event or about similar cellphone based apps; I look forward to meeting you out on the trail. John Mickelson at

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