us teach our people reverence for the silent power and magnificence
of nature as she works incessantly for our good."
The floodplain of the Mississippi River supports forests, grasslands, farmlands and wetlands, all teeming with hundreds of species of fish, mussels, amphibians, mammals, and birds. Ancient bald cypress swamps contain trees 40 feet around and 95 feet high, as well as 13 foot-long alligators weighing 1,000 pounds. Ancient fish species that predate the glaciers still live in the waters of the Upper Mississippi.
The Mississippi Flyway ranges from the Arctic coast of Alaska southeast to the tip of Patagonia, and from southern Ontario southwest across Ohio and Indiana. The flyway is host to 60 percent of America's millions of migratory birds, including ducks, pelicans, loons, falcons, and bald eagles.
As many as 2,500 bald eagles winter along the upper river around the locks and dams. Here the open pools of water provide ideal feeding areas amid snow and ice - one solution to man vs. nature that works for all concerned! However, man and nature don't always mix.
river definitely has been neglected for a long time. It's time for a
"Cancer Alley" is the most polluted stretch along the Mississippi, an 80-mile span between Baton Rouge and New Orleans where 140 chemical companies line the banks of the river. Industrial pollution, however, is only one source of contamination.
Fuel leaks, toxic spills, topsoil runoff, herbicides, sewage, and trash piles reduce the capacity of the water to cleanse itself. The decimation of forests and the draining of wetlands rob plants, birds, and animals of their natural habitats.
protect and restore water quality and shorelines are national parks,
wildlife refuges, and environmental groups like the National Audubon
Society. Conservation tillage programs, resource management, and stricter
environmental standards are making an impact, as are federal, state,
local, and corporate groups. Even one individual named Chad
Pregracke has cleared over 800 tons of trash from the river's shorelines.
The future of the Mississippi Valley will depend on such combined efforts.
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