Mississippi River volunteers
Lend a Hand
A river group highlighted in each issue of Big River Magazine
Building Trails and New River Access
River Action was founded in 1983 with a mission to build continuous riverfront trails and gain public access to the riverfront in the Quad Cities (Bettendorf and Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Ill.).
Projects and Activities
River Action has successfully promoted a new vision of the riverfront in the linked communities on the river in the Quad Cities. It has worked with city governments to encourage riverfront planning, and has helped communities acquire the land to construct 65 miles of scenic recreational trails on both sides of the river, then install overlooks, art, benches and signage.
To celebrate the trail and the river, River Action sponsors an annual family-oriented bike ride on FatherŐs Daycalled Ride the River, in which participants cycle a route through all four Quad Cities and beyond. This year will be the 21st annual ride.
River Action tackles stormwater runoff and its damaging effects in its Retain the Rain program, and has installed many stormwater mitigation projects in the area. These bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs and permeable parking lots diminish the quantity and improve the quality of the water that runs into the river.
River Action sells rain barrels out of its storefront office at 822 East River Drive in Davenport, Iowa.
Asked how River Action had succeeded in so many projects, program manager Brian Fellows said, ŇFirst, we regularly write for grant money and are often successful. Second, we have great working relationships with all of the Quad City governments and outlying communities. Third, we have some experienced, progressive landscape designers in the area who are well-versed in passive stormwater mitigation, hydrology, botany and native plants. And, fourth, we have an extensive network of motivated volunteers who are available to help.Ó
Environmental education and restoration of marshes and wetlands, and preservation of forest habitat are other River Action activities.
Members, Volunteers and Staff
River Action has three full-time and two part-time staff members.
With no dues and no memberships, River Action mails its quarterly newsletter, RiverWay, to 3,600 people, to get the word out about projects. Volunteers from around the Quad Cities and from local communities regularly show up to dig and plant rain gardens, and maintain the plants afterward until they get established. Volunteers design signs, manage food booths and help at the annual Ride the River event. Some recently traveled to Chicago to market the event. Through the Adopt a Trail program volunteers clean up sections of the Quad CitiesŐ extensive trail system.
Funding comes primarily from foundation and corporate gifts, as well as from government programs. The group stages a fundraising catfish fry and a fireworks show, called Fish and Fire, on Earth Day.
Goals and Plans
Plans for this year include rain gardens and bioswales for four nearby communities, and installing permeable paving as part of another communityŐs levee improvement project. River Action is helping to design and construct rain gardens in a Davenport school district, and it is working with a local community college to install a green roof/rooftop garden. Another project this year, funded by a $316,000 Illinois Environmental Protection Agency grant, is to build a green roof atop the McKesson Building in downtown Rock Island, Ill.
Published in Big River Magazine, May 2005.
Update:This yearŐs Ride the River bike ride on scenic trails along the river is on FatherŐs Day, June 18, 2006.