Natchez Trace Parkway to Host Wildlife Festival and BioBlitz
Northeast Mississippi is the headquarters of one of the top national parks in the country. The Natchez Trace Parkway extends 444-miles from Nashville, TN, to Natchez, MS. The Parkway’s Visitor Center, located at milepost 266 in Tupelo, welcomes explorers from all over the world seeking to learn more about the storied road. While the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center offers guest information and interactive exhibits that tell the story of the Natchez Trace and its inhabitants, they also host special events throughout the year designed to help both visitors and locals explore the great outdoors.
One such event will be held Saturday, April 22 from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center and is designed to help people find their park and to promote an interest in the natural world. Mississippi State University and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance are partnering with the National Park Service to host a BioBlitz. Teams of scientists, students, teachers, andcommunity members will track down and identify as many local plant and animal species as possible. The resulting inventory of living things helps scientists determine if biodiversity in the area is increasing or decreasing. Plant and wildlife experts will lead groups through different natural habitats and help participants identify and understand their discoveries.
Along with the BioBlitz, guests are invited to celebrate National Park Week and National Junior Ranger Day during the annual Celebrate Wildlife Festival. The special events includes a variety of activities and displays including:
• Terry Vandeventer’s educational, fun, live snake program: “Snakes of Mississippi”
• Southeastern Raptor Center’s “Live Raptors” Programs
• Mississippi State University students will provide hands-on activities to transform your backyard into bird and pollinator habitats.
• Mississippi Geographic Alliance will have interactive ecosystem maps and geocaching activities.
All activities are free of charge, open to all ages, and are family friendly. Attendees can participate for a short time or stay for the entire day. Participants in the BioBlitz walks will want to register at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center prior to each BioBlitz walk. The registration desk opens at 9:30 am. Prior to attending the BioBlitz, participants are welcome to download iNaturalist, a free app that will enable them to submit their observations from the natural world and contribute them to iNaturalist.org, a social network for naturalists.
The BioBlitz and Celebrate Wildlife Festival will both provide wonderful opportunities for children to learn more about the natural world around them and to gain an appreciation for all that lies behind the trees on the Natchez Trace Parkway. This event is free of charge. For additional information, please call the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center at 1-800-305-7417.