Paddling with the Pope

Throughout my life I’ve been confused about the complex structure of our society and our goals for humanity. It started in third grade when I told my class that I wanted to be a humanitarian. Not understanding the goals of a capitalistic society at the time, I was confused why we did harmful things to each other and our environment for superficial profits and lifestyles. Why do we spend so much time creating differences between ourselves,...

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Unlikely Dance Partners

Guest Blog By Tim Spitzack An excerpt from the book “Reflections from the Riverfront: Essays on Life in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area,” published May 1, 2015. It’s a Saturday morning in mid-June and I am quietly floating in my kayak in a Minnesota bayou. The river is running high and fast this year so I’ve chosen to paddle in the backwaters of the Mississippi in an area that is normally inaccessible, even in a kayak...

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Ashes to Ashes – Floods to Floods – June Newsletter

Always Learning Something New Recent research is shining fresh light on the ancient River city of Cahokia. Named a World Heritage Site in 1982, professional archeologists and amateur historians alike have long been fascinated by Cahokia, the second largest city in North America before European colonization. Home to more people than London in AD 1250, Cahokia was situated on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River near present day St. Louis....

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Protect the Wetlands that Protect Us – May Newsletter

May 21, 2015 Hello River Citizens, Generations of people along the Mississippi River have attempted to protect themselves from flood waters with levees and with makeshift flood walls made from nothing more than sacks, sand and human energy. It’s a tremendous amount of work and though these earthen walls sometimes work, they also confine the water, channeling it’s strength, making the water run faster and highter until most often, nature...

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Field Notes: The Spawn

The month of March brings the snow melt and the warm rains to the Mississippi River Watershed.  The melt from the Rockies in Wyoming feed the Bighorn and Tongue Rivers, while entering the Yellowstone River in Montana. The Grand and Cheyenne Rivers in South Dakota, the James River in North Dakota, the Platte River in Colorado, the Niobrara River in Nebraska, and the Osage River, all flow into the Missouri River, swelling its banks. The...

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Mardi Gras Pass

How did Mardi Gras Pass get Such a Name? Strange things happen on Mardi Gras day. People transform. Hair suddenly grows, turns blue or pink, and trumpets blare. Wild sides bust loose from places that we never knew existed.   On a chilly Mardi Gras day two years ago, the Mississippi River was the one to bust loose and show its wild side. Pressure had been mounting at Bohemia Spillway, about 35 miles south of New Orleans, with months of...

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Destroying Wetlands is Like Poking a Bear

In February’s River Citizen newsletter we started a discussion about the importance of wetlands to the health of the Mississippi River. The health and safety of the people, wildlife, land and water are more dependent on wetlands than most of us realize.  That’s right, wetlands help keep us safe. We have all seen the effects of extreme weather.  Monstrous floods have taken lives and left unseen scars on survivors. During the Great Flood of...

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