River Action Inc., based in Davenport, is spearheading a $200,000-plus project to restore a 225-acre wetland in Moline and thereby improve Rock River water quality.
River Action announced Monday that it has received a $50,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that, coupled with about $150,000 in in-kind contributions, will help restore the Green Valley Nature Preserve.
The little-known wetland owned by the city of Moline is along the Rock River at 60th Street, south of the Green Valley Sports Complex. Through the years, it has become degraded, meaning it does not fulfill its function of filtering water and providing wildlife habitat as well as it might, said Kathy Wine, the executive director of River Action.
One of the restoration steps will be to excavate shallow basins in the tract that will detain stormwater, helping it filter into the ground rather than allowing it to rush, full of pollutants, into the Rock.
Another step will be to remove invasive plant species such as shrubs or reed canary grass that are crowding out natives and replace them with native species that are more conducive to filtering water and supporting wildlife. Invasives tend to become monocultures with limited food and habitat value for wildlife, Wine said.
In a different vein, there will be repairs to the Kiwanis recreational trail that runs through the area west to the Hennepin Canal in Milan. That will promote recreation and appreciation by the public, Wine said.
Finally, there will be education and outreach to make the public aware of what a watershed is and why it is important to have a healthy one.
Staff and students at Augustana College in Rock Island and Black Hawk College in Moline will supply substantial in-kind contributions to carry out the project.
Erica Williams, the environmental manager for the Moline Public Works Department, said that in addition to improving water quality, the project also will help — at least somewhat — reduce flooding on the Rock by holding back water.
Other benefits will include helping to recharge the groundwater table and providing an educational tool for college students and "kids at all grade levels."
The projects used to restore the wetlands will serve as real-life examples of best management practices, she said.
This is the second restoration project River Action has undertaken in the area. Last year, it secured an $80,000 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to restore a specific eight-acre parcel.