Environment
6:00 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Wetlands Group Lobbies For Uniting Mississippi River Interests

An environmental group that’s been studying Gulf Coast wetlands for the past decade is shifting its attention north. The America’s Wetland Foundation is focusing on the source of delta construction: the Mississippi River. The new project is called The Big River Works.

Thirty-one states and two Canadian provinces are connected by the Mississippi River. Foundation Managing Director Val Marmillion says it’s time those interests speak with one voice.

“The Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, Cal-Fed, they all have gotten together and created some kind of compacts, and they go to Washington as a system and they get funded," Marmillion said. "Do you know that in the EPA funding for all of these systems this year, the Mississippi River receives nothing? And the reason it receives nothing is that it because has no mechanism to receive any funding to improve the health of the river.”

The foundation is hosting a series of forums, starting later this month, to corral the varied interests into focusing attention on the river’s best use. It’s starting in Memphis on October 17 with a look at sustaining ecosystems. St. Louis is hosting a meeting in December on improving water quality. In January, a forum in Minneapolis/St. Paul will review cooperation on jobs, tourism and culture.

The final session will be held in February in Chicago. Topics there will include commerce, flood control, use of dredge materials and coastal restoration.

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