Imagine the twirling, whirling, rough muddy waters of the Mississippi River. Water is beautiful, essential to life and sometimes very still. On the other hand, rivers are forceful enough to carve canyons and capable of destroying acres of towns and fields through flooding.
The absolute power of water is evident in the forceful blues music born in the Delta and exemplified by the soulful musician, Muddy Waters, who was raised close to the River in Mississippi. His contribution to our country’s culture is evident daily, so it is fitting to recognize him during Black History Month. Mr. Waters witnessed the power of the River growing up, and his music translates these experiences with raw emotion so others understand the struggle and adaptation needed to survive in the River basin’s challenging environment.
Long before Mr. Waters observed the uncompromising nature of the River, plants and animals found ways to survive. The now endangered least interior tern (shown below), a variety of fish and other wildlife use the wetlands in floodplains as a shelter away from the rolling River and a perfect breeding habitat. The swampy muddy waters of floodplains such as the New Madrid Floodway in Missouri are more than important habitat; they filter pollutants and absorb flood water that is a real threat to towns in the area. Read more about wetlands and floods in the February blog post.
There are now only four federally zoned floodplains on the Mississippi River, only 10% of the area flood plains historically covered. Development, drainage and diversions in water flow have chipped away at this critical environment. The New Madrid Floodway is the next floodplain on the chopping block as officials consider building a levee in its place . Once it is walled off from the rest of the river, the damage, “will result in significant losses of regionally and nationally important fish and wildlife resources which cannot be adequately mitigated” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
Stop the New Madrid Levee
Protect the people, wildlife and water quality around the proposed New Madrid Levee. The National Wildlife Federation’s blog contains valuable information as well as a link for Missouri residents to send a message to Governor Nixon of Missouri to help stop the New Madrid Levee. The Water Protection Network has set up a nationwide petition through Ecowatch where all citizens can sign a petition addressed to President Obama demanding the preservation of one of the few floodplains the Mississippi River has left. As always, thank you for your continued commitment to protecting one the country’s great national treasures, the Mississippi River.
Yours in respect and service,
Annette, 1 Mississippi Outreach Coordinator
Mississippi River Trivia Question:
How many gallons of floodwater can be stored in one acre of wetland?
a. 1, 000 gallons
b. 10, 000 gallons
c. 100, 000 gallons
d. 1,000,000 gallons
Featured River Citizen Testimonial:
“I have worked on Mississippi River water quality issues for more than 25 years. I will be retiring soon and wanted to stay engaged in river issues in the future. Your 1 Mississippi campaign seems like a good way to continue my focus on Mississippi River WQ management issues during retirement.” – John Sullivan