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Black River BioBlitz Nets Nature Lovers

Black River BioBlitz Nets Nature Lovers

posted Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From mushrooms to mussels, wood turtles to warblers, bass to bugs, and milfoil to maple trees, visitors to the first annual Black River BioBlitz were treated to a little bit of everything. Adventuring from Muckross State Park to Hoyt's Landing, BioBlitz participants of all ages explored the woods and water all day and past dark. Their goal? To capture images on their phones and cameras of as many organisms as possible in one day, uploading them to the "2018 Black River BioBlitz" project page at The images, once identified and confirmed to species level by scientists from around the globe, will serve to build the Vermont Atlas of Life as well as to help the State of Vermont inventory the flora and fauna of Muckross State Park.

A free shuttle bus ran between the sites all day, courtesy of Butler's Bus Service. While the BioBlitz was a free, family-friendly event, participants who donated $10 were offered a commemorative button and a cinch sack, provided by Clever Cow Designs of Springfield. Complimentary issues of Northern Woodlands magazine were distributed, courtesy of the publisher.

In addition to an early-bird walk with the Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society, participants were treated to exhibits and tours by experts and hobbyists including the Orianne Society (Kiley Briggs brought his "wood turtle ambassador" and a variety of amphibians in aquarium tanks); the State of Vermont's Fish & Wildlife Department (Lee Simard demonstrated his fish surveying equipment at Hoyt's Landing); a fascinating "mushroom meander" into the woods of Muckross State Park; a paddle excursion with aquatic plant expert Laurie Callahan; an aquatic insect zoo with Billy Ernest (Billy was on loan from the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum); tree tours and discussions about forest pests and problems with Bob Little Tree and Barb Schultz. Lauren Griswold was also on hand at Muckross State Park, sharing information about the ValleyQuest program; and the State of Vermont sent Caleb Basa to man a portable, high-tech boat-rinsing device down at Hoyt's Landing, discussing the threats posed by aquatic invasive species with boaters at the Blitz and those just visiting the public access for the day.

When dusk descended on Hoyt's Landing, so did moth enthusiast JoAnne Russo. Russo brought a full set-up with a white cloth strung on a frame, a lantern, and various ultra-violet lights -- all to seek out nocturnal insects! Bumble bees glowed bright yellow as they slumbered on nearby vegetation; damselflies dozed on fern fronds, thinking they were invisible, but their markings flared fluorescent in the UV rays. There were moths galore, caterpillars and small spiders all "hiding" in plain sight.

The event garnered over 130 individual observations on iNaturalist, with more on the way. BioBlitz was organized and run by the not-for-profit Black River Action Team, and supported by a crew of several young adults with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps who are camping nearby and seeking volunteer opportunities in the area for the rest of the summer. AmeriCorps NCCC members address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, and urban and rural development. For more information, visit

To learn more about the Black River Action Team's BioBlitz, check out the project page at and search for "2018 Black River BioBlitz." The BRAT can be reached at or by contacting Director Kelly Stettner at [email protected] Voice messages may be left at (802) 738-0456; get in touch to find out how you can participate in the next BioBlitz!

Photo by Kelly Stettner, Black River Action Team.

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