Birmingham, with the State Hygienic Laboratory, allows participants to carefully touch
or closely investigate the fish from the river.
With Bike Van Buren drawing people to Van Buren County, Jefferson County Conservation and the DNR Water Trails planned two additional programs to enhance the weekend. On Friday, August 16th the Full Moon Float was held at Lacey-Keosauqua State Park on the lake. Saturday morning, August 17th was the Aquatic Life of the River program at the Boat Ramp at Bonaparte along the Des Moines River.
Naturalist, Brittney Tiller led the Full Moon Float as she discussed the stories of the night sky. The sky was overall cloudy but there were enough breaks in the clouds to see several different constellations. Nineteen people attended the paddle with an even mix of kayaks and canoes. Tiller led participants across the lake, stopping several times. With each stop, participants heard stories of various constellations, stars, and planets. Participants were able to see the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and Jupiter. Tiller shared stories of the constellations even though they were not able to be seen through the clouds. The stories behind the constellations spanned several thousand years and many different cultures. Participants were held captive by the oral history of the stars, much like the people groups who created the stories or the nations that once called the Des Moines River home.
The following morning, Mike Birmingham and his team from the State Hygienic Lab brought their equipment to sample the river. They used various techniques to sample the river, but the most exciting was the electroshocking boat. While using this boat, they were able to net several different fish species such as flathead catfish, walleye, bigmouth buffalo, smallmouth buffalo, quillback, shortnose gar and sturgeon. After shocking the river, the boat returned to shore to allow participants an up-close view of the fish. Over forty participants were able to watch from the boat ramp as Mike brought up the different species of fish. Participants from various ages, locations, and backgrounds all attended the program.
Overall both programs were successful at educating the public on two different topics both while getting people outside.
Article provided by Jefferson County Conservation