More than 100 volunteers along with 25 scientists took part in major conservation effort in the Mill Creek watershed area southwest of Newburg.
The event called a BioBlitz took place June 15 and included a collaborative biological specimen collection and cleanup of the area. The staging area for the BioBlitz was at the Houston House in Newburg.
This BioBlitz, which required almost nine months of preparation, featured field work along with a celebration.
Dozens of teams from the local area and around the state were equipped with nets, traps, cameras, laptops and clipboards. At the end of the day they had recorded approximately 500 different species of flora and fauna signifying an incredibly diverse, and healthy, ecosystem.
Species from flying squirrels to snapping turtles to tadpoles were collected and released as were some exceptionally rare fishes and plants. These findings will contribute invaluable data to help establish the biological inventory of the Mill Creek watershed.
This data is a key component of the official watershed plan that the Mark Twain National Forest is working on. The output of the plan will be a series of projects to enhance wildlife as well as recreational and economic opportunities.
After the capture and collection period, a celebration lunch was served in the courtyard between the Houston House and Children's Museum in Newburg. More than 300 chilidogs along with 650 bottles of water were consumed by the participants and the local Newburg residents.
The award-winning bluegrass band, Mark Lang and The Root Diggers, provided toe-tapping entertainment. The band leader's wife was originally from Mill Creek and Rolla.
Contributing scientists and enthusiasts were affiliated with Missouri University of Science and Technology, Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Mark Twain National Forest, Audubon and Missouri Master Naturalists (six of the 13 chapters in the state contributed including the Meramec Hills Chapter in Rolla).
Local and statewide sponsors were integral to the event's success and included: USA Tours in Rolla, Splash Designs in St. Robert, the Missouri Master Naturalists, Missouri Stream Team, Missouri Department of Conservation, Department of Natural Resources, Ozark Fly Fishers Troutbusters, Mark Twain National Forest, AmeriCorps, The Root Diggers and the Mill Creek Watershed Coalition, which was lead sponsor.
Mill Creek resident Mark Dean, of Dean Designs, created the BioBlitz logo and the T-shirt design. State Rep. Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) also pitched in on a stream cleanup crew.
The co-chairs of the event were Nick Girondo, a senior fisheries biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, and Jim Morrison of the Mill Creek Watershed Coalition.
Jim Marstiller, president of the Mill Creek Watershed Coalition, said that the event was "living proof that there is no end to what can be accomplished when people work together towards a common goal and no one cares who gets the credit."
Page 2 of 2 - For more information on the Mill Creek Watershed Coalition, visit www.MillCreekMo.org.