All creatures great and small: River Action, Augustana group canvass Green Valley for living things

Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2013, 9:56 pm
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By Laura Anderson Shaw,
MOLINE -- The hum of the acres of bugs and the cadence of the cicadas created the perfect soundtrack for the dozens of people who canvassed the Green Valley Nature Preserve on Saturday.

From morning until afternoon, experts and volunteers toured and scouted the area in search of all living things that call the area home.

Saturday was Bio-Diversity Day, a "comprehensive species inventory project," said Amy Bandman with River Action, which joined forces with the Upper Mississippi Studies Center, a new organization at Augustana College that focuses on sustainability science and building relationships between people and natural resources.

"We're getting a count of all the living things that we find in the area at Green Valley," Ms. Bandman said, noting that going over the numerous tally sheets and crunching the numbers would be the "project for the week."

Throughout the day, 25 experts from the community and area colleges led about 60 volunteers through the area, counting and collecting plants, insects, worms, birds, reptiles, amphibians and soil samples. They'd bring the work back to the picnic tables situated beneath tents before getting to work cataloging it all using identification books, Ms. Bandman said.

"It was cool to see everything out here," she said.

Ms. Bandman said the information gathered will be turned over to the city of Moline to offer a look at the health of the site and pinpoint ways it could be improved.

"It was very successful," she said.

Dr. Michael Reisner, of Geneseo, the director of Augie's new Upper Mississippi Center, said the center is working to assess the area's waterways and analyze "how these wetlands and green spaces are functioning."

Collaborating with River Action for the bio-diversity project seemed like a natural fit, he said, and engaging with the community allowed Quad-Citians to become more aware of wildlife and their impact on it.

The group also searched for "hot spots" throughout the 350-acre preserve, Dr. Reisner said, or areas where more plant or wildlife resided, and whether wildlife was native or non-native to the area.

His daughters, Joselyn, 8, and Savannah, 9, came along to help.

"I helped find bugs," Joselyn said, adding that she and her group searched for worms by pouring a mixture of water and mustard into the soil, which helped to draw the worms to the surface.

She found one worm using the method, she said. "It was skinny," she said. "It was really pink and you could almost see the veins."

Her sister netted insects for the project.

There were "a lot of grasshoppers and crickets," Savannah said.

She also found a skipper, she said, which is "kind of like a butterfly and a moth," but it's "not a butterfly and it's not a moth."

She said the creatures land with their wings up like a butterfly, using her hands to mimic the angle.

She enjoys searching for wildlife and plant life, "just to be outside and get messy."

Ms. Bandman said the groups plan to assess other wildlife spots around the Quad-Cities, including those posted on River Action's QC Wild Places page at

"It's a good project," she said.


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