Wildlife Week, Flower Watch Mark Coming of Spring

National Wildlife Week, March 16-20, will see people of all ages making time to be outside with the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Watch program.

The National Wildlife Week Web site, www.nwf.org/wildlifeweek, offers resources for parents, grandparents, and educators to make spending time outdoors more fun than ever. The downloads are free. Wildlife Watch lists of plants and animals for your area of the country, and ideas for community service projects that protect local habitat.

"The activities provided like Wildlife Watch are simple and fun and can be enjoyed anywhere there is a patch of green," says Eliza Russell, director of Education for the National Wildlife Federation.

First observed in 1938, Wildlife Week is now part of the National Wildlife Federation's BE OUT THERE campaign, inspiring millions to get outside and enjoy the natural world.

In a similar get-out-of-the-house program, thousands of volunteers will be tracking climate change by recording the timing of flowering, leafing, and other plant life cycle events.

Project BudBurst, http://www.budburst.org, a collaboration by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the University of Montana, plan to announce the results of last year's observations in March.

"Climate change may be affecting flowers and trees in our own neighborhoods in ways that we don't even notice," says project director Sandra Henderson of UCAR's Office of Education and Outreach. "Project BudBurst is designed to help both adults and children understand the impacts of climate on plants and to communicate their observations on the Web."

Project BudBurst is funded by the U.S. Geological Survey, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the National Geographic Education Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The project is also supported by the National Science Foundation and is hosted on Windows to the Universe, a UCAR-based Web site.

Each participant in Project BudBurst selects one or more plants to observe. The project Web site suggests more than 75 widely distributed trees and flowers, with information on each. Users can add their own choices.

Participants begin checking their plants at least a week prior to the average date of budburst -- the point when the buds have opened and leaves are visible. After budburst, participants continue to observe the tree or flower for later events, such as the first leaf, first flower, and, eventually, seed dispersal. When participants submit their records online, they can view maps of these phenological events across the United States.