Restoration of the Upper Mississippi River has been an important campaign of National Audubon for several years-one that gets scant attention here on the East Coast. Your Conservation Chair got a wakeup call during a recent visit to Minneapolis and has resolved to make an effort to repair her own neglect. As I strolled along the bluffs of the city's Minnehaha Park, I was surprised to see that the mighty Mississippi is narrow and fast-moving at this point. Even more surprising were the billowing pillows of froth that formed at the foot of the lock and dam and snaked downriver as far as the eye could see. What is this stuff and where is it coming from?
Upon my return home, I was happy to learn that a bit of help is at hand for this great natural treasure which, sadly, is in crisis. In mid-April, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1800, which will fund a multi-year study of soil erosion and agricultural runoff in the northern basin of the Mississippi. The U.S. Geological Survey would lead the research, developing a computer network to identify where sediments and runoff enter the river. As of press time, the $7 million measure had moved to the Senate for approval.
National Audubon has strongly supported this proposal, which will help its Upper Mississippi River restoration efforts and will assure that the areas with the greatest negative impacts can be cleaned up first. Furthermore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now in the process of creating a plan that will involve other agencies, non-profit organizations and the general public in a "collaborative process" to develop a comprehensive management plan that includes ecosystem needs as well as flood control and navigation in a balanced approach. H.R. 1800, along with the Corps' new plan, could have tremendous positive effects on birds and wildlife that make their home on the Upper Mississippi, including tens of thousands of waterfowl and the great congregations of bald eagles that gather there in winter.
To learn lots more about the Upper Mississippi River Campaign, visit http://www.audubon.org/campaign/umr/
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