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Two River Birthdays in the Last Week


Upper Mississippi, Wigwam Slough

Pool 8, Upper Mississippi, Wigwam Slough

We celebrate two birthdays that are important to the Mississippi River and its ecosystem this week.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just celebrated the 85th birthday of the Upper Mississippi National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, which I noted last week has been designated a Wetland of International Importance.

The refuge came into being after after the Corps of Engineers proposed draining 30,000 acres of wetlands in Winneshiek Bottoms for agriculture in 1923.



Upper Mississippi NWR, Winnisheik Bottoms, Lansing, Iowa

Upper Mississippi NWR, Winnisheik Bottoms, Lansing, Iowa

Barrington Moore, president of the Ecological Society of America, the predecessor to The Nature Conservacy, testify to Congress against drainage of the bottoms.

Will Dilg, who was instrumental in forming the Izaak Walton League, proposed turning the bottoms into a national wildlife refuge. Congress did the following year,  created a refuge that extended from Wabasha, MN to Rock Island, IL, and paid $1.5 million for the land.

The other birthday we celebrate is the 80th of the Corps of Engineers’ Engineers Research and Development Center and the Waterways Experimental Station in Vicksburg, M, which Congress authorized in 1924, but did not come into being until five years later, after the Flood of 1927, which proved wrong every theory the Corps held about how the Mississippi River functioned. The purpose of the center is to study  how the river and its ecosystem work. 

Because once we know how the river and its ecosystem works, we can repair some of the damage we have done to it.



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