I am trying to renovate the descriptions of all the National Park Service projects that I manage (Please join!) and one concern I often get from parks is citizen scientists’ sensitivity/awareness to resource impacts. Resource impacts, especially in highly visited places like national parks, are a huge concern, and we want to do our best to encourage people to explore parks while also not trampling, handling, vandalizing, or generally degrading resources.
I can give two really common examples of problems NPS units commonly have that were brought to my attention recently.
- Biological soil crusts being tread upon in places like the desert southwest, where it can take hundreds of years for the crust to recover. Simple messages like “Stay on the trails” are common knowledge for citizen scientists, but when an ameteur botanist is looking for x flower and they’re trekking through backcountry to find it, we’d like to give suggestions on how to do so in a low-or-lowered-impact manner.
- People handling herps with their bare hands has been noted in parks as well. We want the public to be wary of the wildlife health problems associated with handling herps like that.
In an effort to be conscious of those concerns (or similar impacts, because there have been many comments made directly or indirectly to myself and others), I was going to develop a brief guide on responsible citizen science practices, no more than one page. I’d also be happy to develop it for the ‘Guides’ section of the website to be able to link to it. I don’t want to duplicate efforts, however. Does anyone know if a similar guide, dense and comprehensive or not, has been produced? In my searching, nothing seems to cover a super broad scope so far.