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Block Buster Survey 2016 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Page (last update 8/5/16)

Q: By when do I need to finish my surveys?

A: You need to conduct  your surveys during the growing season this year so effectively that means before the end of September. Once the leaves start to change, identification if some species becomes more difficult. 


Q: When I’ve taken a photo, how do you know what species I think it is? 

A: One suggestion is to include the page of the Invasive Species Quick guide in the photo with the sample. This might work, however it would be better if you wrote a label and put it with the sample, and if you're uncertain of the ID you should put a question mark after the name.


Q: How far back do I look off of the path I am walking?

A: You should generally stay on the trail and typically you'll be able to recognize plants up to about 5 meters (15 feet) off the trail in each direction (if you need to go off the trail to confirm the ID of a plant within 15 feet of it, you can do so, subject to the rules of the natural area). If you see focal species beyond 15 feet off the trail, you should disregard them unless they have not been otherwise recorded for the survey of the natural area. In that case, you should note the first such sighting in the Opportunistic Observation Form and record its latitude and longitude. This should happen rarely, however, as typically, when  the focal species are found in natural areas they are close to trails.  


Q: What if my block doesn’t have a natural area?

A: Simply choose the most "natural" area in your block - every block should have some relatively green space, even if it's in far from pristine condition. 


Q: What if there is no parking area in the natural area in my block?

A: Even if there's no parking lot, you should survey the trailhead, i.e., the place immediately adjacent to the beginning of the trail you enter on - this can include the roadside there if appropriate, but only if the roadside can be surveyed safely, and subject to any safety measures or prohibitions of the agency or other entity overseeing your surveys.


Q: What if there is no hiking trail in the natural area?

A: If there is no hiking trail, you can walk simply walk through the natural area and enter the "No Trail" code in the blank provided on the Natural Area Trail Data Form in which you record the type of trail.  In all other respects, you will record your route and observations just as if you were on a trail. Since there will be no trailhead in such a situation, simply treat the place from where you entered the natural area as your parking lot/trailhead, and briefly describe this situation on the Parking Lot/Trailhead Data Form.


Q: Where do we start the trail survey? How far in from the parking lot?  

A: The parking lot/trailhead should include any disturbed area immediately adjacent to the trail entrance (such as well-trampled areas around a trail kiosk). As soon as you go beyond this, you'll be on the trail itself and should then begin the trail survey. Thus, there's not a set distance from the parking lot, and you'll need to do your best to make a reasonable call regarding the distinction between trailhead and trail when doing the survey. In any case, however, if there are particular individual plants that you've observed from the parking lot/trailhead and you can still see these same individuals from the trail itself, you should not include these same particular individuals on the trail survey. 


Q: Is P(W)# required?

A: Yes, for all the situations indicated on the forms if you are using a borrowed GPS or the Avenza PDF Maps app. The Placemark number or Waypoint number allows us to associate the saved point on your phone or GPS unit with Latitute/Longitude coordinates. Even if you have written down the coordinates, having the Placemark or Waypoint number allows us to double-check the coordinates in case you have written them down incorrectly. This means that for the formal surveys (HPA, Natural Area Trail, Natural Area Parking Lot/Trailhead) they're needed for the beginning of the first segment of each survey and the end of each segment, as well as for some point observation records of Group 2 species, as spelled out on the forms. They're also needed for the Opportunistic Observation Forms, as described on them. 


Q: Can I do multiple HPA, NA, or Trailhead surveys within the same block or am I limited to just one of each type of survey within the block?

A: The minimum requirement is one HPA, one NA, and one Parking Lot/Trailhead within the block. However, if you want to do additional sites in any of these categories, we encourage it and would very much appreciate it.


Q: The shopping center where I am surveying has burning bush planted around the borders, should I report that?  My neighbor has Miscanthus planted in their yard, should I report it?

A: No, you should not report planted individuals of any focal species.


Q: How do I write down GPS coordinates?

A: When writing in GPS coordinates on your survey sheets, please copy down the entire coordinates as displayed on your GPS unit or in the Avenza PDF Maps application.