Scientists to Descend on Walls of Jericho for BioBlitz

The Walls of Jericho is the setting for Alabama’s first “BioBlitz” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Approximately 30 scientists from around the southeast will join biologists from the State Lands Division to document plants and animals on the Forever Wild property in Jackson County.

BioBlitz is the brainchild of the Center for Conservation and Biodiversity and the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History, who have been hosting events like this for several years. The BioBlitz is designed to collect scientific data and to bring public awareness to the diversity of an area. Scientists chose the Walls of Jericho Tract as a place they would be interested in studying because of its great diversity in plant and animal species. Most of the scientists attending are from universities and government agencies in the southeastern United States.

Jody Thompson, habitat ecologist for the State Lands Division, is coordinating the event. “We will be setting up a base camp for everyone to stay. Depending on the species they study, some scientists will also be working at night. They will be counting species as well as gathering samples to take back and study,” he said.

The Walls of Jericho will be open as usual to visitors during the weekend. Because the BioBlitz is designed to be educational, the public is invited to interact with the scientists.

The Walls of Jericho tract consists of 12,510 acres in Jackson County that border the state of Tennessee. It is comprised of mountainous and wooded terrain, hosting caves, springs, rocky bluffs and portions of the headwaters of the Paint Rock River. It was named the Walls of Jericho because the area encompasses a large bowl-shaped canyon of rock.

To reach the Walls of Jericho from Scottsboro, take Highway 72 West to Highway 79 North. Follow Highway 79 through Skyline and Hytop. North of Hytop, look for directional signs to the Walls of Jericho. The first parking lot is for the horse trail and the second parking lot is for the hiking trail. The 2.5-mile hike to the Walls is downhill, which means the hike back up is quite strenuous. Hikers are encouraged to wear proper shoes and bring plenty of water.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR and the Forever Wild Program visit www.outdooralabama.com.

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