Bio Blitz Held at Black Hawk State Historic Site - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Bio Blitz Held at Black Hawk State Historic Site

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At a time when Illinois' state historic sites face cutbacks and shorter hours after Labor Day due to budget cuts, volunteers and scientists are out in force at one of them, the Black Hawk State Historic Site, for a Bio Blitz this weekend.

They're trying to find and document as many species as they can in 24 hours, between 3 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday.

The scientists will be out at the Black Hawk State Historic Site all night Friday, continuing to collect and document species.

But, normally, the property is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. year round.

And, thanks to those budget cuts from the state, this may be one of the sites that will have to close even earlier starting this fall. That's a prospect people out there for the Bio Blitz say they would not like to see:

"I think we should be lucky that such a property exists within Rock Island and the Quad Cities," said Tim Chambers, coordinator of this Bio Blitz. "To have a forest like this with the urban context is really something special."

"Why would the public want to protect these sites if they can never go to them?" said Angella Moorehouse, a Natural Area Preservation Specialist with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, who was out helping to collect insects for the Bio Blitz on Friday afternoon.

Protection and preservation are among the big goals from this weekend's Bio Blitz:

"If we're going to protect it, we have to know what we have," Chambers explained.

So, biologists with a variety of expertise are joining volunteers in the field to collect as many species as possible in this 24 hour period, looking for everything from insects to mammals to all manner of flora, fungi, and fish.

"It's kind of a way to geek out for us biologists," Moorehouse said. "Just kind of a day of fun to have a competition to see what we can find."

We tagged along with teams in one part of the state historic site that were looking to boost their finds and were busy setting traps for insects and small mammals.

Even in the early hours of this blitz, there were plenty of exciting discoveries.

By Saturday afternoon, they will be among the many, many specimens out on tables near the nature center with scientists at the microscopes identifying and studying them.

"It allows the public to see what we do and it allows us to have the opportunity to bring out volunteers and to teach the public as to the importance of why we have our jobs and what we're doing," Moorehouse said.

All members of the public are invited to come out to talk to those biologists, and take part in hikes, workshops, and other activities. Click here to see the schedule.

The Bio Blitz a chance for everyone to see for themselves what this area has to offer.

"I think it's the more the merrier," Chambers said. "This is the perfect opportunity for the layman, the public that aren't biologists, that aren't specialists, to come in and learn about the value of this property due to its biological diversity."

Back in 2008, former Governor Rod Blagojevich announced a number of state historic sites would close due to state budget cuts, including the state center at Bishop Hill, Carl Sandburg birthplace in Galesburg, the Hauberg Indian Museum and Apple River Fort.

They reopened in 2009 when Governor Quinn restored funding.

 

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