We Need a Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative

Upper Mississippi River Watershed- Wisconsin. Photographer Bob Nichols with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service

This blog was written by Rebecca Malpass, Healthy Gulf's Policy Intern.

The Mighty Mississippi: America’s greatest river; our ‘cradle of fertility’.

An emblem of American history, culture, and economics, the Mississippi River possesses the most extensive river valley in the nation, the most productive ports by tonnage worldwide, and the fourth largest river drainage basin on the planet.

It produces and transports 90% of our nation’s agricultural exports. It provides a home to 25% of all North American fish species, 60% of all North American migratory bird species, 145 species of amphibians and reptiles, and more than 50 species of mammals, including otters and bears. It also provides drinking water to more than 18 million people in over 50 cities.

Shockingly, there is no federal legislation to oversee the protection and conservation of America’s most essential river system… yet!

Healthy Gulf is pleased to announce the introduction of the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative in congruence with Congresswoman Betty McCollum and other leading environmental organizations.

A Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative is a crucial component of Rep. McCollum’s FY 2021 Interior Bill, as it demands the EPA take steps to secure the future of the river. It would focus on improving water quality and navigation, restoring habitat and natural systems, eliminating invasive species, and building local resilience to natural disasters.

The lower Mississippi River, in particular, faces threats from massive urban and agricultural runoff, major industrial pollution, an expanding dead zone, significant natural habitat loss, and rapidly rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes caused by climate change. Long-term economic stability is also jeopardized, as pollution and coastal habitat loss destroy the marine and freshwater food supply and eco-tourism dollars are lost.

Communities of color and economically underprivileged communities, both urban and rural, are particularly disadvantaged by these issues. A comprehensive Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative would help to prioritize investments that assist these communities, as well as establish an EPA Mississippi River office dedicated to addressing the initiative’s measures.

We already provide protections for the Chesapeake Bay and Great Lakes. Now it’s time to take action for America’s most valuable water system… the Mississippi River.

Be sure to follow Healthy Gulf as we move forward and find out how you can help.


Matt Rota

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