OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is looking for volunteers to assist in collecting habitat data this month and next at two wildlife areas in eastern Washington.
Those interested in volunteering at the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County are invited to attend a day-long training workshop for "citizen science" volunteers Saturday, Sept. 29. A similar session is scheduled at the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County on Saturday, Oct. 20.
"Volunteer citizen scientists are key to our long-term Ecological Integrity Monitoring program," said Chuck Gibilisco, WDFW citizen science coordinator. "We just don't have the staff to gather all the baseline data we need to determine what's going on over time with the flora and fauna on our wildlife areas."
The department plans to expand this program to more state wildlife areas in the future, he said.
Gibilisco noted that the Swanson Lakes work will include an examination of areas scorched by a large wildfire earlier this month. Controlled burns planned for the Sinlahekin this year and next will provide additional opportunities for data collection.
WDFW research scientists will train volunteers at the workshops to use their digital cameras and "smart phones" to document area habitat and record their images on an online database.
Volunteers will receive access passes to the areas and reimbursement for up to 140 miles of travel. Work hours count towards a free Discover Pass for access to all WDFW lands.
Volunteers can register for the workshops and find more information, including driving directions to the wildlife areas, at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/citizen_science.html.