- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A group of environmental activists in the Quad Cities has formed an organization to raise awareness about prairie ecology and to promote its restoration.

Figge Art Museum executive director Tim Schiffer told the Quad-City Times (http://bit.ly/25zygmI ) that the idea for the organization, called Tallgrass Q-C, grew from his prairie art exhibit at the museum.

Museum members Tony and Joyce Singh suggested collaborating with others to teach the public about the environmental issues surrounding prairies and to encourage restoration plantings that would benefit pollinators.

Other prairie-related activities will include the second annual Quad-Cities Pollinator Conference, prairie plantings and tours and a butterfly release.

CEO Jay Pearce said WVIK, the National Public Radio station at Augustana College, has also created a website with the goal of providing information about regional environmental issues.

At a news conference Wednesday announcing the organization, Brian Ritter, executive director of Davenport’s Nahant Marsh said that 180 years ago, the site in front of Davenport’s Ground Transportation Center would have been covered in prairie.

The city of Davenport permitted 700 to 800 prairie plants to be grown at the transportation center.

“This is a small slice of what would have been here,” Ritter said. “There is value in small prairie plots.”

He said Iowa had 30 million acres of tallgrass prairie when European settlers arrived. Today, 99.9 percent of the prairie has been plowed for farmers and other development. He said this is the primary reason that insects, birds and other creatures in the area are in trouble.

He said people can help the effort by creating their own plantings and logging them on a map on the Tallgrass Q-C’s website.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

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