I saw my first buttercup in bloom this year on March 15 at Blue Mountain – but that wasn’t the earliest sighting around Missoula. Blog reader Paul Alaback wrote in an e-mail that they were out March 12 on Mount Sentinel, March 6 on Mount Jumbo and March 2 in the North Hills.
Part of the reason Alaback e-mailed is because he’s looking for some help.
Project Budburst is a national program that relies on volunteers to report wildflower sightings in the spring, Alaback wrote. The goal is to collect climate change data based on when flowers first appear.
Anyone can sign up as a citizen scientist, and all it takes to participate is to register an observation site, add a flower and enter dates for various phases of plant development, from first leaves to first flower to fading color and falling leaves. From the site, you can also view recent flower sightings around the country.
It’s a quick and easy process, so if you’re hiking around western Montana this spring, spare a few minutes for science!