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Cahaba River Society to Host 2nd Annual BioBlitz on April 15

The Cahaba River Society will host the 2nd annual Cahaba BioBlitz alongside the return of the Cahaba River Ramble 5-K and 10-Mile Trail Race on Saturday, April 15 at Cahaba River Park in Shelby County.

Registration for both events open at 7 a.m. and the trail race will begin at 8 a.m. Cahaba River Park is located at 2793 River Road, Helena, AL 35080

The 1,838-acre park is a joint venture between the Alabama Forever Wild Land Trust and Shelby County at the confluence of Shades Creek and the Cahaba River.

“This is a chance for people from all backgrounds to be introduced to citizen science and safe recreation in the outdoors, while participating in unique environmental education opportunities including biological surveying, nature walks, creative writing, art activities and more,” said Education Director La’Tanya Scott.

Cahaba River Society hosted its first BioBlitz at Camp Fletcher last April, when over 150 participants joined in to find over 340 species at Camp Fletcher, a historic nature preserve and summer camp founded by Alabama’s first Black registered nurse.

“It was thrilling to see so many people experiencing nature and learning about biodiversity at this special site. We had people of all ages and backgrounds working together to search for and document species. We knew that the BioBlitz needed to become an annual event,” Scott said.

During a BioBlitz, scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity. Participants can join group species surveys led by experts, or can explore on their own, documenting the plants and animals that they find with photos using cell phones or cameras.

In addition to searching for species, BioBlitz participants will have the chance to explore their creativity in nature by joining creative writing workshops, including a nature poetry workshop led by poet and UAB professor Halley Cotton and a nature journaling workshop led by environmental educator Amy Sides.

“The BioBlitz at Cahaba River Park seemed like a perfect opportunity to bring back the Cahaba River Ramble, taking advantage of the phenomenal running trails on site,” said Casey Laycock, Cahaba River Society Development Director and Race Marshall. Cahaba River Society previously hosted the popular trail race at the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge, but the event had been put on hiatus in recent years due to the pandemic.

“Runners can bring friends and family to watch the race, and then join in the BioBlitz activities. The whole day’s events are a wonderful melding of Cahaba River Society’s goals of encouraging environmental education and outdoor recreation while giving people the opportunity to experience the beauty of the Cahaba River,” Laycock said.

Participation in the BioBlitz is free, and those who register ahead of time will receive info and instructions by email. The Cahaba River Ramble is the primary fundraiser for Cahaba River Society’s Shane Hulsey CLEAN Environmental Education program, and online registration will remain open until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 14. Racers can also register on site the day of the race with cash or check. Those interested can learn more about both events and register at www.CahabaRiverSociety.org.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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