Eco Challenge: Where Is Your Bioregion?

Where is your bioregion?

Do you know what a bioregion is?

You’re about to find out!

Where is your Bioregion?: How much do you know about where you live?

We are all living in bioregions, whether we know it or not.  Wherever you live on the planet, you are within a bioregion.  Where is your bioregion?

There are certainly many ways to think about and define bioregions, as well as the perspective of bioregionalism, considering such concepts as biogeography.

According to Wikipedia’s Bioregion page: 

”A bioregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a biogeographic realm, but larger than an ecoregion or an ecosystem, in the World Wide Fund for Nature classification scheme.”

Here’s another perspective on bioregions and bioregionalism from the Movement Generation that may be a little easier to comprehend.

Complete the bioregion challenge: Start with your HUC

One of the easiest ways to begin taking a bioregional mindset is to think about watersheds.  The physical boundaries of watersheds were formed by gravity and waterflow, long before the existence of humans.  So, watersheds are a way to define where you live that is “beyond” the social and political systems we humans have created for ourselves using relatively arbitrary lines on maps we created based on typically anthropocentric assumptions.

In North America, especially in the United States, we can use the work of the United States Geological Survey USGS to help us find our HUCs.  You can use the Science in your Watershed interactive map from the USGS to get a basic understanding of where your HUC is.  We’re interested in the eight-digit HUCs, which are technically Subbasins.  For example, the Upper New River subbasin is 05050001.  You can see the outline of the Upper New River basin in the bottom right corner of the 05 Region of the US map in the diagram below.

The above diagram is provided by the US Geological Service, in the public domain.

Once you understand what your eight-digit HUC is, you can usually find a more precise and accurate GIS map to find more about the HUCs in the state you happen to live in.  Or just do some internet searches using the HUC number: you’ll never know what kinds of cool information you’ll find.

The above map includes 4-digit HUCs within the 2-digit HUCs, provided by the US Geological Survey, in the public domain.

Do what you can to map out all the 10 and 12-digit HUCs within your eight-digit HUC, getting a sense of the bioregional neighborhood.  Which 12-digit HUC do you call home?

Are you familiar with the concepts of the atlas and the gazetteer?  In short, an atlas is typically a collection of maps around a common theme, and a gazetteer is a collection of information to be used in conjunction with one or more maps.

Here’s the next part of the challenge: Make a bioregional atlas and gazetteer centered around your eight-digit HUC.  The USGS Streamer app can be really handy in finding out lots of water related information concerning your local HUC. 

If you need more inspiration, consider this Illustrated Guide to Geography and Maps provided by the Library of Congress. Careful, it can be a bit of a time-suck in there!

Once you’re satisfied with your atlas and gazetteer, or whatever artifacts you create, write a brief reflective essay about your experimentation with this biogregional perspective.

As an alternative (or in addition) to writing an essay, you can:

  • Create a video of yourself talking about the artifacts you’ve created and more of a reflection of the creative experience, or
  • Create a sound recording (like a podcast) of yourself talking about the artifacts you’ve created and more of a reflection of the creative experience, or
  • Create a narrated slide deck presentation about the artifacts you’ve created and more of a reflection of the creative experience

In any case, your reflection should demonstrate critical analysis of your experience exploring and mapping your bioregion.

Submit your work!

Once you have completed the challenge, contact the Upper New Review via email (challenges@uppernew.org) to receive a private link to submit your project at no cost.  

Should the production quality be suitable, and the content themes appropriate, we will follow up with you to publish the artifacts and a meta-narrative about these Eco Challenge experiences in the Upper New Review.