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Cahaba River Society Offers Survey of Nature During This Weekend’s BioBlitz

Cahaba River Society


Cahaba River Society will host a BioBlitz at historic Camp Fletcher on the banks of Shades Creek in Bessemer. The event will begin with a nighttime survey of moth, bat and amphibian species starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 29. Saturday, April 30 will continue the BioBlitz from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be activities for all ages, with nature walks, wildlife viewing, and, beginning at 1 pm, special community programs for participatory nature art and creative writing, story-telling, and camp tours.

Camp Fletcher was founded in 1926 by Pauline Bray Fletcher, the first African American registered nurse in Alabama, as an outdoor retreat for inner city Black children and families to explore nature and the outdoors. Today the camp continues to provide outdoor experiences to children in its 300-acre wooded nature preserve.

What’s a BioBlitz

A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. At a BioBlitz, scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity. 

This BioBlitz will bring local scientists, educators, conservation organizations, and community members together to build an awareness of the biodiversity and history of Camp Fletcher while collecting useful scientific data. Teams of volunteers will work with expert leaders to find and identify as many species of plants and animals, on land and in the water, as can be found on this special site.

What activities are offered?

In addition to scientific study, participants will have the opportunity to tour the historic camp and to participate in a collaborative project merging art, story-telling and creative writing that explores the diversity of humans and nature.

La’Tanya Scott, education director with the Cahaba River Society and former Camp Fletcher counselor. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

“Connecting people to nature is essential to our mission at Cahaba River Society,” said Education Director La’Tanya Scott. “Our work is driven by the conviction that every person has the birthright to clean water and to nature, no matter their circumstances or identity. That conviction was shared by Pauline Fletcher when she created Camp Fletcher for Black children who were being denied the experience of nature due to the unjust policies of segregation. We aim to honor Nurse Fletcher and her incredible legacy with this BioBlitz.”

A successful BioBlitz needs many partners, and CRS especially thanks the Ratliff Charitable Foundation, Friends of Shades Creek, the Camp Fletcher staff, CRS intern Katie Sutton, and professors from area universities for making this event possible.

This community event is free and open to all ages. Lunch, snacks, water and supplies will be provided while supplies last. Participants are asked to register at CahabaRiverSociety.org, and must register for lunch.

What will we be documenting? With your help, a variety of species, including:

–birds and mammals

–fish, mussels, and aquatic macroinvertebrates

–reptiles and amphibians

–insects and arachnids

–plant species, lichens and fungi

–water quality

No experience is needed.


At the BioBlitz we’ll be offering hikes and activities for people of all ages. There is no charge to attend or participate in any activity, but participants should register in advance.

  • Nighttime moth, bat, and amphibian survey with Samford Biology Professor Dr. Pete VanZandt and Vitaly Charny, lepidopterist, photographer, and co-author of Butterflies of Alabama(Friday, April 29 beginning at 6 p.m. – limited overnight camping spaces available)
  • Daytime survey of land and aquatic species (Saturday April 30, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.) including:

o   Turtle species survey with Dr. Andy Coleman, Herpetologist and Assistant Professor at Talladega College and creator of the Urban Turtle Project

o   Tree species survey with Henry Hughes, founder and executive director of Friends of Shades Creek and retired education director of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

  • Guided tours of Camp Fletcher (Saturday, April 30)
  • Storytelling and Community Creative Writing with Salaam Green(Saturday, April 30 beginning at 1 p.m.)
  • Community Art Project with Celeste Pfau(Saturday, April 30 beginning at 2 p.m.)

Learn more at www.cahabariversociety.org

 Learn more at www.bridgewaysal.org/camp-fletcher/