2017 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 posts the most observations and the most number of species between April 14-18 on that city’s City Nature Challenge project on iNaturalist. Scroll below for detailed explanation.

Newest: See latest blog about Final Push & wrap up for City Nature Challenge including links to the leaderboards: https://houstonprairie.org/2017/04/20/cnc-final-push/Still not too late to upload photos taken between April 14-18 and not too late to help ID and increase species count!


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 (HoustonPrairie.org/2017HouCNC) because 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 are Richard Gibbons & 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 between April 14-18, inclusive.

Go to the project City Nature Challenge 2017: Houston, join it, and post your observations there between April 14-18 (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2017-houston). For more information and to follow the progress of the competition during the 5 challenge days, go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/naturechallenge.

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 14-18, inclusive, in the Greater Houston Area Counties: Harris, Galveston, Chambers, Liberty, Montgomery, Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Austin.

Note: This span of five days includes Easter on April 16th and Tax Day on April 17th. Do do your taxes in advance so you will have more time to participate!



iNaturalist Training

On Saturdays, April 1 and Saturday, April 8: for details, see HoustonPrairie.org/CNCactivities

(sponsored by Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston, Coastal Prairie Partnership, and Houston Chapter – Native Prairies Association of Texas): Monday, March 20, 6:30 pm to ~8:30 pm at Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX 77055 (Google map).  Jenn Drummond, Texas Master Naturalist of Gulf Coast Chapter will be teaching. Click here to register for this class. Seating limited, so if you sign up and cannot come, please let us (lan.shen@txgcmn.org) know to release your seat to others. Possibility of classes in Bellaire, if not filled by Gulf Coast Master Naturalist members.

Anyone wanting iNaturalist training, please email Lan.shen@txgcmn.org. If enough people need training, we might assemble another class.

Some of the organized events between April 14-18 are now posted on a new page: https://houstonprairie.org/cncactivities/ (Email Lan.shen@txgcmn.org, if you want your event, open to the public, to be posted)

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 2017: Houston on iNaturalist.


Some iNaturalist tips:

  • Limited data, 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-2017-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: www.facebook.com/events/257551441366716/
Flyer in pdf: hnpat.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/tx_cnc_flyer_j.pdf
Information blog at this website: houstonprairie.org/2017/03/03/city-nature-challenge-apr14-18/
Information blog in printable pdf sheet: hnpat.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/citynaturechallenge.pdf
Flyer + iNaturalist instructions all in pdf: (a conversion of TPWD’s power point to pdf for those without Microsoft office): to be uploaded