2023 Bioblitz: Powered by iNaturalist

Every year, MountainTrue hosts a Bioblitz event where we gather experts, enthusiasts, and lifelong learners together to document every living organism we can find in a given area. We identify and catalog organisms in-person and virtually using the online app iNaturalist to make the event accessible to all.

Our 2023 Bioblitz will focus on the Craggy Mountains, lasting from June 10 to June 25.

This is an area of astounding biodiversity that the Forest Service has recommended for permanent designation in the new Forest Plan for Pisgah National Forest. MountainTrue and Friends of Big Ivy are partnering to hold an in-person bioblitz on June 10 — click here to register for this event. We’ve recruited over 20 experts to lead you, your friends, and your family to discover and photograph the natural diversity of the Craggy Mountains. What’s more, the information you collect will be crucial in documenting the special character of the area, helping the Forest Service to better protect it, and in demonstrating to Congress that it should be designated a permanently protected National Scenic Area.

If you can’t make the event on June 10, you can still participate! All you need is a smartphone with the iNaturalist app (or a digital camera) and to sign up for the 2023 MountainTrue Craggy Mountain Bioblitz. You don’t even have to know the identity of the plants and animals you photograph — just take pictures of the unique features of each organism and upload those to iNaturalist and a worldwide network of experts will help identify your observations. 

Tell your friends, neighbors, family, and fellow naturalists and citizen scientists, and get prepared for a Bioblitz like no other!

If you’re already familiar with iNaturalist, scroll down for specific instructions on how to join our Bioblitz Project. You will also receive the project info when you sign up to participate using the form below.

In-Person BioBlitz Event

iNaturalist is a public-science tool used to collect and verify data on biodiversity. Individual users upload observations, which are checked by other users and experts, and then added to a massive database of information. This data becomes publicly available, making it useful for scientists, researchers, students, and enthusiasts to use for various purposes and projects. It is one of the most popular tools out there, with over a million users, and has useful functions for any level of learner, from novice to expert.

Anyone with a smartphone or computer can use this app by downloading it on the app store or visiting iNaturalist.org. They have great video tutorials for both first-time and experienced users on their Getting Started page. The basics are simple: take a photo of a living thing, upload it, and iNaturalist can help you identify what it might be. The more pictures you add, the better it works. For the best identification, try to take up-close shots of different parts of the plant or animal. Once your files are uploaded, other people from around the world can confirm your identification or take a guess if you have no clue. And if you’re a botanical enthusiast, you can help others learn by identifying their uploads!

If you’re looking for an even simpler version of this interface, there are multiple spin-off apps that are generally designed to help kids and students engage with the natural world. Seek is an app that gives more guided (and simplified) instructions. EcoExplore helps kids make their own observations and offers iPad rentals through local libraries to make citizen science more accessible. Both of these programs upload their data to the iNaturalist platform, and all can be used for our Bioblitz!

With just a single picture, iNaturalist can help you narrow down what you’re seeing. Each suggested species comes with identification information that can help you confirm your find and know what to look for next time!

Specific instructions for joining our 2023 Bioblitz Project:

Install iNaturalist on your smartphone, turn on location services for your photos, and allow iNaturalist to use photo locations. iNaturalist can also be used on a laptop or desktop via the internet. Then, create an account with iNaturalist. This is easily accessible on the app or web browser, and your account will be viewable under the “Me” tab on the app, or the upper right corner on the website. 

Once you have an account and are logged in, you can start joining projects. Search for MountainTrue 2023 Bioblitz in the main search bar at the top of the website. Once you’ve found our project, hit “Join” in the About section on the website view. On the app, you can either search for this project through the search bar in the “Explore” tab, or on the “More” tab, under “Projects.” It may be necessary to scroll down to make the search bar visible on the “Projects” page. Once you’ve joined, you should be able to follow along and see what observations others are making!


Click here for more info on the iNaturalist help page. Our iNaturalist Project is designed to capture all observations uploaded in the region between June 10 and June 25 — even if you haven’t joined our specific project. This allows us to capture uploads from the EcoExplore and Seek apps as well. If you’re having difficulty accessing our Project or have other questions, please contact josh@mountaintrue.org. We’re here to help. Thanks for learning with us!