Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ENVIRO-NEWS: Mississippi National River and Recreation Area releases first-ever State of the River Report

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From: "Makuch, Joseph" <Joseph.Makuch@ars.usda.gov>
Date: Oct 9, 2012 1:34 PM
Subject: [ENVIRO-NEWS] Mississippi National River and Recreation Area releases first-ever State of the River Report
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Mississippi National River and Recreation Area releases first-ever State of the River Report

How is the Mississippi River? Can I swim in it? Is water quality improving? Can I eat the fish I catch? National Park Service staff have helped develop the State of the River Report, which assembles and analyzes a wealth of data-and communicates in plain terms how the river is doing, in order to answer these frequently-posed questions.

Forty years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, a new landmark report on the health of the Mississippi River shows that progress has been made, but there is also cause for concern as new issues emerge.

The State of the River Report was just released by the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MISS), in partnership with the Friends of the Mississippi River. The report examines the status and trends of 13 key indicators of the river's health and water quality, including bacteria, phosphorus, nitrate and sediment content, as well as the river's viability for recreation, fish and wildlife.

"The Mississippi River is a complex natural system, with many factors affecting its overall health and vitality," said Paul Labovitz, Superintendent of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. "This new report provides an important benchmark as we assess how the river is doing compared to the past, and which efforts have been effective at improving its health and water quality. In short, the report reveals that there has been a great deal of progress, but that there are areas of concern due to changes in how we use land, and the introduction of pollutants and invasive species the system."

Among the positive trends, bald eagle, mussel and fish populations are increasing, which are signs of a restored river that is home to healthy and abundant wildlife. On the other hand, recreation and aquatic habitat on the river face being degraded by excess sediment and phosphorus, and some portions of the river are impaired with excess bacteria. In addition, river flows and nitrate concentrations have both increased significantly over time, while invasive Asian carp continue to move upstream. And a number of additional contaminants, such as triclosan and pharmaceuticals, present risks to the river that, while not yet fully understood, are cause for concern due to their potential impacts on human and aquatic health.

"The solutions to these problems will require new tools and decisive public action before they move beyond our reach," said Lark Weller, Water Quality Coordinator for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. "We hope this report will help people better understand the challenges we all face in trying to preserve and improve the river, and we also want to provide strategies for doing so."

The report includes a companion guide with strategies for individual action. Its Stewardship Guide provides practical steps for individuals to take in their homes, yards, and communities to improve the health of the Mississippi River. The State of the River Report and its companion guides are available at www.stateoftheriver.com .

The State of the River Report was funded, in part, by the McKnight Foundation, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, and the Capitol Region Watershed District.

More Information...

Contact Information
Name: Lark Weller
Phone Number: 651-293-8442
Email: lark_weller@nps.gov

Posted: September 27, 2012

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