2018 Houston City Nature Challenge


We at HNPAT whole-hearted support the Texas Parks & Wildlife’s City Nature Challenge. What a great way to get people to observe nature in the city! Basically, it is a contest on iNaturalist (www.iNaturalist.org) to see which city in Texas and in the world posts the most observations and the most number of species between April 27-30, 2018 on that city’s City Nature Challenge project on iNaturalist. Scroll below for detailed explanation.  Houston won the award for most unique species logged during the 2017 event!

This year HNPAT will be holding an event at Deer Park Prairie on April 28, as part of our Spring Prairie Day celebration.  We’ll have a short session on the use of iNaturalist and then go out into the prairie and make observations in support of our city!


To facilitate the program and help our readers who are interested, we are posting here any information that we get. Keep checking back to this page – we will be posting updates as we get them. For organized events go to this page – HoustonPrairie.org/CNCactivities.

Other info:

Running the challenge in the greater Houston area is Sarah Flournoy of Houston Audubon. So most of the words and information below are from Sarah’s email.


What is this all about?
Houston, Austin, and DFW and other Texas cities are competing in the City Nature Challenge to see which city can post the most number of species and post the most number of observations to their city’s CNC project on iNaturalist from April 27 – 30, inclusive.

Go to iNaturalist and post your observations of living organisms. If your observation is made within the boundaries and time frame of the Houston CNC project, it will show up there automatically. Observations need to be made from April 27-30. For more information, go to this HoustonPrairie.org blog .  Greater Houston is defined as these counties: Harris, Galveston, Chambers, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Austin.

You do not need a smart phone or tablet. Take a photo with your camera and upload the photo to iNaturalist on your computer when you get home. Actually, an avid iNaturalist user, Jenn Drummond, says the computer website has many more features than the app.

You don’t need to identify what you see: “Just take a picture of a plant or animal, post it to our project on iNaturalist and the online community will help accurately identify the species.”

Rules:   from Sambiology – one of the managers of Houston’s CNC project: “…ALL observations will count within the time frame and the location. However, the most interesting observations are the plants and animals that aren’t cultivated. Non-natives [in natural areas] are totally ok and useful — so the Chinese tallow and invasives are supremely important and should indeed be documented!

I think what… was talking about was going to like a botanic garden and observing some of the cultivated plants or going to the zoo and observing giraffes in TX. Those aren’t too useful.

As people observe things, hopefully others will provide guidance on what the identification is and the native status.”


Where & when?
Any observation between April 27-30, inclusive, in the Greater Houston Area Counties: Harris, Galveston, Chambers, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Austin..



iNaturalist Training

  • Saturday, March 17, 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. at Houston Zoo’s Brown Education Center (enter Gate 8) by Tania Houmayoun, TPWD Texas Nature Trackers Program from Austin. Free. RSVP to diana.foss@tpwd.texas.gov
  • Saturday, April 28, we’ll have a class at Deer Park Prairie.  Free. More information & RSVP link is forthcoming.
  • More training opportunities will be listed as they develop.


Or make observations on your own or with a few friends in your yard, or in a park, etc. and post to the project City Nature Challenge 2018: Houston on iNaturalist.


Some iNaturalist tips:

  • If you have limited data on your celluar plan, turn the cellular off for the iNaturalist app. Just take photos and upload to computer using wifi when you get home.
  • Location: you need to put in a location. However, if your camera does not have latitude and longitude, you can write in a location description, such as at the corner of A St. and B Rd.
  • You can hide the location of the observation.
  • If you have trouble doing any of this on the app, just go to the website on your computer.

More Information Links:

Main links from above:
Houston’s project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2018-houston
Main Challenge website: http://tpwd.texas.gov/naturechallenge

iNaturalist Links
Getting started: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started (other topics in the menu on the left)
Help page: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help –  #17 What does captive / cultivated mean?

Other links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/177107216385427/