Photo courtesy of John Ruskey

Photo courtesy of John Ruskey

Another long day of paddling in rainy asymmetrical unpredictable weather patterns  throughout the day. They come and go so quick like western storms. Since St.Louis we have paddlep along a  floodplain call the American Bottoms. It stretches all the way from Cahokia, Ill.  to Chester, Ill. , with the Interior Highlands across the channel of the Mississippi River. These ancient cliffs where once part of the Appalachian Mts. 200 million years ago. This floodplain expands approximately 15 miles east. When it gets to the Kaskaska    River confluence with the Mississippi River, it switches sides with the bluffs.

  It has beautiful islands like Osbourne, Calico, and Beaver, as well as producing some of the best farmland, only

Photo Credit: Mississippi River Corridor–Tennessee

second to the Nile River floodplains. It also produces world class White-Tailed Deer. Massive Great Blue Heron rookery’s in large sycamore trees are everywhere. The biggest population of Bald Eagles and beavers I have ever seen in the Midwest. The island’s interior forest are covered with edible wild greens. At night the forest floor lights  up with eyes of harmless arachnids hunting in the fallen leaves. The estuaries and wetlands are loaded with waterfowl of all kinds. The reptiles and amphibians are waiting for the spring sun to warm the water so they can breed.

 These floodplains sustain thousands of species which are essential to mankind. These areas must say natural and pristine to keep the health of the Mississippi River for generations to come. It’s great that farming is good for our economy, but we must use better agriculture principals  to curve nutrient pollution. It is critical to the systemic health of our great river.
Mark River
1 Mississippi Outreach Assistant

Photo Credit: Mark Rivers/Quapaw Canoe Company