Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

Man vs. Nature

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
man vs. nature exhibit section
Artifacts and images on loan from many sources, including:
~ Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine IA
~ State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines IA
~ The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Winona MN
"Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese hoot northward.

I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse. I heard them.

I did not know what was happening in my heart …
And I longed to know the world's name."

-- Robert Penn Warren, "Audubon" 1969

The quality of the Mississippi River's water and its wildlife habitats are essential to the ecological health of the entire continent. The river enfolds in its wake, however, an enormous variety of wildlife trying to exist side by side with human industry and engineering. Can man vs. nature continue to live together?

Pollution ranges from industrial dumps to agricultural runoff to city sewage, and affects plants, fish, birds, and animals that depend on the river's water, forests and wetlands. Stricter environmental standards are helping to reduce the negative human impact on the Mississippi. Wildlife refuges, national parks, government and community agencies are working to do their part, as do the hunters and trappers through licensing and regulated control of the balance of nature.

On the water itself, the necessity of commercial navigation is matched by the need for protection from natural disasters. The river is controlled through a series of locks and dams along the upper river, miles of levees protecting riverfront properties in the South, and jetties stretching out into the Gulf of Mexico.

In today's clamor for government and corporate funding, money for environmental projects may prove to be limited. Ultimately, it may be the work of private individuals such as Chad Pregracke and groups like the National Audubon Society who will determine the destiny of America's greatest river.

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Did you know … ?
The list of endangered and threatened species in Iowa alone include 140 plant species, 23 amphibians and reptiles, 17 bird species, 24 fish, and 10 mammals.

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This section "Man vs. Nature" has the following related pages:

Continue through exhibit

2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
You are here!
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
View Selected Artifacts
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