If you're planning to be in Utah this coming weekend, consider stopping by Cedar Breaks National Monument to take part in a biodiversity search for bats, birds, and bugs.
On Friday, July 18, and Saturday, July 19, visitors will have opportunities to participate in a number of activities, including guided bird walks, “Follow a Scientist” activities, insect surveys and identification, bat program and survey, and more.
The BioBlast! is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the biodiversity of the Cedar Breaks environment by actively searching for different species and interacting with scientists and field experts. The results will provide the park with updated species lists as well as create new ones.
“It will be a busy weekend at Cedar Breaks,” said Joanna Durfee, BioBlast! coordinator and student intern for Cedar Breaks National Monument. “Activities for the Wildflower Festival will also be going on, and many people enjoy the beautiful wildflowers and cooler temperatures. The last day for the Wildflower Festival is Sunday, July 20. We’re hoping to engage a lot of these visitors in helping us survey the park for these different species of wildlife."
Scientists from Southern Utah University and Dixie State University will be leading many of the BioBlast! activities.Visitors can find checklists, instructions, and insect collecting tools in the Visitor Center area. Scientists will be on hand in the ranger station to identify insects that are collected and then to assist in safely releasing the specimens.
Activities that focus on the park’s birds include guided bird walks at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings, and at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Visitors will find bird lists, binoculars that can be checked out to visitors, and an activity station for dissecting owl pellets.
On Friday night at 9 p.m., visitors are invited to observe a survey for bats in the Alpine Pond area. Bring a flashlight, jacket, and water and be prepared to walk on uneven trail terrain. On Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. a program about bats will be conducted in the Ranger Station.
“Shadow a Scientist” walks are scheduled throughout the BioBlast! The walks focus on surveying for birds and/or insects and provide great opportunities to watch, learn, and contribute to the park’s wildlife species database. Wildflower walks will be offered daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
To finish off the weekend’s activities, a Star Party will be held at 9:30 p.m. at the Point Supreme overlook in the Visitor Center area. A laser-led constellation tour will be conducted by park staff and AstroVIPs followed by viewing deep space objects through several telescopes. Visitors are encouraged to dress warmly.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is located 23 miles east of Cedar City, along Highway 148 between Highway 14 and Brian Head. The park entrance fee is $4 per person, ages 16 and older. Visitors should come prepared for cool weather at 10,000 feet.