Come Out and Play!
Outdoor Chattanooga News + Events April 2020
Outdoor Chattanooga's newsletter highlights the awesome outdoor activities happening in and around Chattanooga that will connect you to the outdoors and inspire you to come out and play with us!
Outdoor Chattanooga Events
Chattanooga City Nature Challenge 2020
April 24-27
What is the  City Nature Challenge ?

The City Nature Challenge a global science competition to find and document biodiversity in local communities. The annual challenge is intended to engage residents and communities to find and document plants, animals, and other living organisms in their urban areas. We're partnering with  Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center  as the local organizer of the Chattanooga City Nature Challenge 2020 to encourage people of all ages from all over the greater 16-county Chattanooga Region to get out in their own backyards, local parks or favorite trails to observe nature and upload their observations to during the 4-day challenge set for April 24 - 27, 2020. 

To see what's already being observed around the region, visit the   Thrive Regional Partnership Biodiversity Project on iNaturalist We want school groups, scout groups, outdoor enthusiasts and photographers, park stewards, birders, wildlife viewers and citizen scientists to participate in the challenge to help showcase the amazing biodiversity that exists in the Chattanooga region! Don't know how to use the iNaturalist app? No problem, here's some helpful video tutorials on how to use the app.

The City Nature Challenge is organized on a global scale by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Academy of Sciences and locally in Chattanooga, TN by Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center , Outdoor Chattanooga and the City of Chattanooga Park Stewards.

Self Guided + Virtual Hike
Due to the impact of COVID-19, we are temporarily adjusting how we operate. For now, all of our programs and group activities are suspended until further notice to adhere to the social distancing recommendations of the CDC and the City of Chattanooga . Instead of leading a guided hike in April, we're offering two other options for you to experience a local trail. Join us for a 5-minute  virtual hike offering scenic views and a waterfall from the comfort of your own home. Or, go on a self-guided hike while adhering to social distancing recommendations set by the CDC and regional health professionals. Denny Cove is located in the South Cumberland State Park . It is a scenic trail in a remote setting and as of now, Tennessee State park trails are still open to the public. (Please note there are no restroom facilities at this location and many public restrooms and other public use areas are closed). Please check our website for the latest updates on closures and travel restrictions before heading out and be sure to practice Leave No Trace Principles .
Virtual Learn to Ride a Bike Class
We think knowing how to ride a bike is a really important life skill to acquire and want to help all the parents out there struggling to teach their littles how to ride. Check out our Facebook Page and Youtube channel for a live class on April 13.

Virtual Rapid Learning Skills Sessions
Tuesday, April 21
Due to the impact of COVID-19, we are temporarily adjusting how we operate. For now, all of our programs and group activities are suspended until further notice to adhere to the social distancing recommendations of the CDC and the City of Chattanooga . This includes our Rapid Learning Whitewater Program. This dynamic program offers formal kayak instruction for beginner and seasoned kayakers to learn and develop the skills necessary to safely and confidently paddle whitewater streams. Follow our Rapid Learning Facebook and Youtube channel for a live demonstration during our final indoor session on April 21 .

Local Highlights
Outdoor Chattanooga's Response to COVID-19
Our primary mission is to connect residents and tourists with Chattanooga's outdoor scene. Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID-19, we are temporarily adjusting how and what it means to experience the outdoors in Chattanooga. For now, all of our programs and group activities are suspended until further notice to adhere to the social distancing recommendations of the CDC and the City of Chattanooga .

We believe the outdoors can be a place of solace and serenity while offering opportunities for reflection, recreation and connection with nature - all important elements of staying healthy. While we practice social distancing and do our part to prevent the spread of the virus, we've compiled a list of park and public spaces closures, along with resources, ideas, and activities for how you can still experience the great outdoors in the greater Chattanooga region, in a variety of ways. **Please note that many public day-use areas, restrooms, campgrounds, beaches, and recreational sites are closed (check the list below before you go) so you plan accordingly and practice Leave No Trace Principles and recommendations for going outside during COVID-19 .

Chattanooga has plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure and going outside to recreate is a great way to maintain physical and mental well-being during this time of uncertainty, as long as you practice smart social distancing. While taking advantage of our fantastic local parks and trail systems, avoid group activities and keep six feet away from others you encounter.

If you're going out for a walk, run, or ride, we'd like to encourage you to use free tools like STRAVA , MapMyWalk , MTB Project , and/or Trailforks so that you can track your route and share it with others! It's a fun way to encourage group participation while still adhering to social distancing. The iNaturalist app is a great online resource for recording wildlife observations and tracking biodiversity.
Outdoor Chattanooga is Hiring!
If your dream job involves getting paid to play outside and lead outdoor activities for adults and kids of all ages, then you should apply for this  Outdoor Trip Leader   position we are seeking for this summer! The seasonal position starts in April with 15-20 hours per week, May through August averaging 30-35 hours per week and potential to continue working October at 15 hours per week. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, have current CPR/First Aid certifications and a valid TN driver license. Job posting closes April 3. Click here to learn more and apply.
Feedback Requested on How You Thrive Outside
It’s no secret that the greater Chattanooga region is a mecca for outdoor activities! That doesn't happen by accident. There is a lot of thoughtful planning and partnerships involved in the building and maintenance of our beloved outdoor spaces. Thrive Regional Partnership is polling outdoor recreationists in the region to see where people go outside to play in an effort to connect local communities to the rising recreation economy. As a reader of our newsletter, your input is valued! This information will help Thrive and its partners support local communities as they build economic strategies around outdoor recreation and tourism. Take the survey
Community Events
Spring Wildflower Scavenger Hunt in TN State Parks
Each spring wildflowers bloom to brighten our hiking trails and ensure us that warmer weather is near. More than just beautiful accents to the landscape, these wildflowers serve an essential role in the ecosystem supporting pollinators and wildlife. As you enjoy Tennessee State Parks this spring, we challenge you to look closer and get to know these blooms. To help, the TN State Parks provided a list of 15 wildflowers and flowering shrubs that you can find this season along with where these flowers have been spotted before to guide your search.

As you're out discovering new blooms, record what you find with the free iNaturalist app . In the app, click 'observe,' snap a picture of the plant you're looking, and hit “what did you see.” iNaturalist will then provide you with the name, image, and description of the species it thinks you've found. Make sure to record the park location and share to help our naturalists at Tennessee State Parks keep track of the living things in our parks. You might even have your recording deemed research-grade!

Virtual Tours and Learning with Reflection Riding
Reflection Riding is hosting Facebook Live Virtual Learning Events Monday - Friday at 12:00 p.m. Lead Educator, Corey Hagen offers a series called "The Backyard Naturalist" every Monday at 12:00 p.m. Their Invasive Plant Specialist, Byron Brooks is on every Tuesday at 12:00 p.m. Tish Gailmard, Wildlife Director, will feature a different animal every Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. Greenhouse manager, Dylan Hackett, and Horticulture Director, Scotty Smith, are doing a horticulture based event every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. Finally, Taylor Berry, will be teaching Bushcraft skills every Friday at 12:00 p.m.

LWFF Social Distance Series
April 1-6
LWFF doesn't have any medical expertise, a stock pile of hand sanitizer or toilet paper to share. But, they do have access to a lot of awesome outdoor adventure and conservation film and understand the concept of social distancing. In an effort to help make things a tiny bit better during this uncertain time, they've put together a list of their favorite films from all 8 festivals and are sharing 3-5 films each day at 6 p.m. for all to enjoy. Stay home and check them out!

Four Nature Apps for Backyard Explorin'
As we continue to adjust the way we get out and experience our natural world to prevent the spread of COVID-19, technology can be a great tool for interacting with our natural environment and learning about nature. We encourage you to try these  free apps  to learn more about the common plants + critters   that live in your own yard or neighborhood. Take it a step further and share your sightings to become an official citizen scientist!

○  iNaturalist - With  iNaturalist , you’ll join nearly half a million nature lovers in sharing your observations. Download the app, create a login, and  watch these video tutorials  on how to use your phone to photograph your “prey.” Share your sighting and the app's intelligence will identify what you found. iNaturalist logs your observations links to detailed info on the species. You can even investigate the activity around you to see what your neighbors have been finding!  

○  Seek - Is more user-friendly than iNaturalist because it was designed especially for kids and it allows you to ID in real-time with your phone's camera. When you scan a plant or spider or snail with your camera, the app searches around and (most of the time!) pops up with a name.   So fun! Seek doesn’t share information, because of location privacy concerns for underage naturalists. 

eBird - Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,  eBird  is another   crowd-sourced database. Just about every smart phone-owning birdwatcher in the world now contributes their sightings on the eBird app, with over 100 million bird sightings every year. You simply log on at the start of your birdwatching and record the birds you see. The app logs your time and location. This helps conservation efforts to build migration maps, track population changes and monitor the effects of climate change. Even your backyard birds deserve to be recorded! Browse  to get up-to-the-minute info on what’s been seen right here and abroad. 

Merlin - Not sure what bird you’re looking at?  Merlin  is a terrific app for birding beginners, using eBird data to narrow down your bird. Tell Merlin what you see. It’ll ask the size, colors, what the bird is doing, and then give you photos of likely birds to choose from.  Couldn’t be easier! 
*This is a perfect time to look for birds in your grass, shrubs, trees, and sky because they’re busy nesting or migrating south to their breeding grounds. Birds are most active in the morning and at dusk.

An upside to this troubling time is the opportunity to appreciate what’s right here at home, and to find beauty in the ordinary. Nature heals, so go explore! 
*Thanks to NOOGAToday for the inital write-up.
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