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March Book Discussion: The Swamp by Michael Grunwald

By Olivia Dorothy

Al Gore lost the election because of Florida… but why did he lose Florida?

According to the author of our March book, The Swamp by Michael Grunwald, the Florida Everglades, America’s Swamp, has played in integral part in United States history and politics.  It’s a history that is often unrecognized and underappreciated, but the timing of our March selection couldn’t be better as new information is emerging about the early multi-cultural settlements in Florida.

If you’re a PBS fan like me, you may have caught the recent Secrets of the Dead episode on Spanish Florida, which highlighted the post-European contact settlements and societies that were founded long before Jamestown and Plymouth.  The documentary is an excellent companion to Grunwald’s book.  If you haven’t seen it, go online and watch it now.

In his book, Grunwald explores the natural and human history of the Everglades and how it’s influenced our national policies and politics.  The Everglades has been home to people for at least 14,000 years where its rich ecosystem supported some of the earliest human settlements in North America.  But it wasn’t until United States became a country did we start to see these rich resources exploited and the swamp drained for development.

The progression of the region from the wildest of wildernesses to penultimate engineering marvel to National Park mirrors the progression of our national conservation conscience.  Indeed, Grunwald argues, the region is intractably intertwined with our national politics, including presidential elections and even the policies that have shaped the develop of the Mississippi River.

Regardless of whether you’ve visited central Florida or the Everglades you’ll be able to relate to the place through Grunwald’s articulate history.  So make time to read The Swamp (it is a long book) and join us for our book discussion on March 27 at 7PM at River Action.


Bridges to Conservation: Building a brighter future for Mississippi Mussels

Please join us Monday, January 15 at 6:30PM at the Moline Public Library to hear a presentation from Elizabeth Bainbridge, Fish and Wildlife Biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on mussel conservation in the Midwest.

River mussels exist out of sight and out of mind.  Because of this, these small, slow moving animals are often underestimated.  Mussels play an important role in aquatic ecosystems.  They are also one of the most endangered groups of animals in North America.  Between Illinois and Iowa at the Quad Cities exists one of the most diverse mussel beds on the Mississippi River.  Until recently, this bed was unknown to researchers.  When surveys for the new Interstate-74 Bridge began, these creatures were brought to light.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working within the community to preserve this natural resource.  Please come and learn how this process is taking place and why mussels deserve to exists in the spotlight.

Elizabeth moved to the Quad Cities in 2016 to spread the word of freshwater mussels for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Her position is funded by a unique partnership with the Iowa Department of Transportation, as a result of the I-74 mussel relocation.  Prior to working for USFWS, Elizabeth was stationed with the Park Service at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  There, she worked to improving the health of rivers and streams within the park.  She received her Master’s degree in Wildlife at Fort Hays State University in western Kansas, where she studied the behavior and ecology of southern flying squirrels.  She started her academic career at the University of Dubuque in eastern Iowa.  Elizabeth was born and raised in Clinton County Iowa, near the Mississippi River, where her love of nature was born.  To date, she has worked with thousands of people of all ages, and many different partners, to foster an appreciation for conservation along the Mississippi.

We hope you can join us on Monday!