BioBlitz at Coldwater Spring

Nancy Duncan, Natural Resource Program Manager, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

We usually hear the word "biodiversity" in regard to rainforests with their vast number of species. Yet the diversity of life in our own backyards is phenomenal. We take for granted clean water, fertile soil, and air to breathe, yet these are all the result of working ecosystems filled with species that perform these tasks.

From fall 2011 to fall 2012, the National Park Service demolished a dozen abandoned Bureau of Mines buildings at Coldwater Spring. Since then the National Park Service, Mississippi Park Connection and hundreds of volunteers have been working to create a natural park. This year's BioBlitz will inform us about changes in numbers and species of fish, fungi, insects, birds, and plants living within the 29 acres of Coldwater and surrounding parkland and riverfront. The baseline for this information came from our first BioBlitz on the property, which was held in spring 2013, shortly after demolition was completed.

BioBlitz is an intensive 24-hour sweeping scientific survey of biodiversity in which the public helps scientists find all the plants and animals at a specific location. Part contest, part festival, part educational event and part scientific endeavor, BioBlitz brings together participants from across the state in a race against time.

Volunteers assist BioBlitz scientists using sonar detectors, bug lights, fish traps and live traps to count and chronicle the area's flora and fauna. All ages and skill levels can take part to collect plants and insects and live-trap animals, which are identified before being released back into the wild. Come be part of a group of dedicated scientists and volunteers roaming the park, equipped with all kinds of gear, from binoculars and bird nets to small mammal traps and mushroom baskets.

The National Park Service, Mississippi Park Connection, and the Bell Museum of Natural History are all working together to organize this year’s BioBlitz on July 15 & 16 at Coldwater Spring.