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Fire Recovery & Community Science

February 15 - March 22

Do you want to help our wildlands and trails recover following the Thomas and Whittier Fires? Are you interested in brushing up on your local botany? Do you enjoy hiking? The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (the Garden) needs YOU to help map over 300 miles of local trails that were affected by the Thomas and Whittier Fires as a Community Scientist (also known as Citizen Scientist). Community science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur (or nonprofessional) scientists.

Are you ready to become a Community Scientist?

  • No prior botanical knowledge or experience is needed, although it’s helpful!
  • You must be willing and able to hike a chosen trail within the Los Padres National Forest on your own (no Garden botanist accompanying), looking for targeted plant species. Trails can be as short as one mile and as long as 18 miles, with varying level of difficulty – we’ll do our best to match you to your best trail.
  • You’ll need access to a smartphone, or be able to borrow a friend’s phone, and you’ll need to be able to download our app.
  • You’ll be expected to volunteer to hike and map this trail at least once between March and June, and participate in both a classroom and field training.

Step One: Attend a classroom training and complete onboarding forms.

This training session will introduce the Garden’s Fire Recovery Mapping Project and teach you the methods used to map wildland recovery after fire. You’ll learn species identification skills to recognize new and noxious invasive species along our local trails and will learn how to record these occurrences using our app. At the end of the training, you’ll receive a trail to steward in 2020 by hiking it once or more during the growing season.

Step Two: Attend a field-based training

Classroom training at REI will be followed by required in-field afternoon trainings (choose one) to demonstrate the methods. Participants will sign up for field trainings at the classroom training.

Step Three: SCIENCE!

  • Community Scientists will hike their chosen trail in the Los Padres National Forest looking for targeted plant species.
  • When target plant species are found, Scientists will assess their extent and abundance, and record that information using a smartphone-based app.
  • Community Scientists will also be looking for eroded areas and trail damage, and taking photographs to share with the Garden.
  • All mappers will be looking for at least 12 different invasive plant species. Experienced botanists can opt to look for more invaders and a suite of rare plant species as well.
  • We will provide “cheat sheet” pages with photographs, illustrations, descriptions, and key features of the plants we are looking for. * Trails will be located throughout the Thomas and Whittier Fires, on Forest Service land.

Register now for classroom trainings!

REI Santa Barbara

REI Oxnard


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden


February 15
March 22
Event Categories:


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
805.682.4726 ext 102
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