Coldwater Springs is a special site of importance to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area as it is full of history and is one of the few land sites within the 72 mile corridor that is owned by the National Park Service (NPS). It was one of the first American settlements in Minnesota established in 1825 due to its proximity to Historic Fort Snelling and its spring water. It would continuously be used for its fresh water by the Army and a central trade site for settlers and Native Americans. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that land changed hands to the Bureau of Mines to become a research center for moon rocks brought back by the Apollo mission and other mining technology. The research center had 12 buildings constructed which were later vacated in the late 1990’s until finally in 2010 the NPS took control and began its restoration in 2011. With it now being 2016 it is interesting to see how far this site has come in just 5 years not only in the renovations but the growth in diversity of species.

Bureau of Mines Building (2011), Building steps after demolition (2012), Prairie from building steps (2016)          Photo Credit: NPS/NPS/Regan Baker

 

With the help of many volunteer scientists, National Park Service staff and community volunteers we were able to identify that there are over 600+ species of organisms in Coldwater Springs alone! Some of the categories of organisms we found to have a wider diversity were the plants and fungi.

fungi-collection
Volunteer scientists collecting and identifying fungi in the area

 

The plant diversity at this site has grown tremendously well and will hopefully continue to grow naturally and with the help of great volunteers working with the NPS. This year during our 24 hour BioBlitz we managed to identify almost 300 plants!

Pale Purple Coneflower & Purple Prairie Clover  Photo Credit: Regan Baker

 

Though with a Bioblitz you look for all organisms and we had a great variety! The best part of being part of an event like this is just seeing all the organisms that go into creating a truly expansive ecosystem. That can include prairie, fungi, birds, insects, mammals, and so much more!

Eastern Chipmunk, Goldfinch, Monarch Butterfly   Photo Credit: Regan Baker/NPS/NPS

If you are interested in seeing organisms  like these join a local Bioblitz near you! If you can’t wait, go out and explore a park near you with some binoculars a note pad and enjoy the beauty of nature!