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Lower Mississippi

River Dispatch

Vol 10 No 4a, Thursday, April 3, 2014

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First Light Day 2

Driftwood Johnnie Journal

BIG ISLAND Arkansas River Expedition Day 2 - Intro

While most students from the KIPP Delta School system were on spring break last week, at least one student was still busy learning -- this time in an entirely new classroom. His name is Kavadous Starr. He has never camped overnight in the wilds before, but he has some paddling experience. Back home when he told his grandfather what he was getting ready to do, his grandfather said “Boy! What do you know about camping? You’re always such a pretty boy. You never even want to go outside. You’re going to freeze! Look, here’s $130. Now go get yourself a hotel room!” Little did Kavadous’ grandfather know, but there are no hotel rooms available from any of island and sandbar campsites during this expedition through the wild bottoms of the Arkansas River. Where we were going there is nothing but river, sand, mud, forests and the big open sky above!

This new classroom is full of challenges and rewards for Kavadous. The challenges: freezing night, two boots both right foot, hard paddling, cold hands, solar panels, powering up the laptop for water quality test. The rewards are many: good food, four bald eagles tearing apart a fish, giant turtle shells, a raccoon scuttling up the river bank, an alligator sunning itself and then swishing off into the river. This is Kavadous first camping trip and he is a natural. He told me that even if he had a choice, he would have stayed in the tent, and not gotten a hotel room.

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Kavadous Starr Journal

Second Day, Second Night

The paddling was good, we saw more bald eagles. We also saw a possum. I found what looks to be a pig skull on a little beach area behind the main channel of the Arkansas River. I was able was able to see what bears do when they smell something they like. So we paddled on and saw more things, like pretty trees. We made camp. We set up our tents and ate a good stew that Braxton made. I will say it was spicy, but good. And then we went to sleep. I slept good. Better thank the first night.

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Red-Eared Turtle Shell

Water Quality Sample #1

Arkansas River

Main Channel

Quapaw Bend

4’ off Sandbar LBD

Wed, Mar 26 9:57am

Temp: 12.6 C

DO: 6.0 mg/l

Turbidity: 100.26%T @ 430mm

(couldn’t get a pH reading)

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Kavadous Steers the Canoe out of Owen's Lake

Mark River Blog

Arkansas River-Big Island-Day 2

The start the day with water analysis as the alligator gar feed in the shallows near our boat. The river has dropped significantly as the Cricket canoe sits landlocked on the shore. Yesterday the dam was generating electricity which raised the water level sending the fish and water fowl into a feeding frenzy. Today it's pristine and moving slower.

We eat a quick breakfast and head downstream. The first meander of the river gives a sight only seen on television. There were four immature bald eagles and fish crow standing on the sandbar enjoying a meal together. A small mouth buffalo fish had become stranded on the sandbar when the water dropped. With the abundance of wildlife sighted, the Arkansas River is a rich fishery able to sustain a variety of animals.

We continue on into a headwind ,enjoying the diverse habitat ,as we paddle through sloughs and bayous getting out of the canoe to explore occasionally. The river meanders continue to change giving us a different element around every bend. Our canoe is starting to fill up with skeletons of animals that we continue to find while exploring. We have skeletons of all types-catfish, deer, turtles, and feral hogs.

We end the day with a water analysis and a hearty stew to replenish the vitamins and minerals depleted during the paddle. The fire feels good to my soul as I drink ginger tea and feel my belly with great food, but my sleeping bag calls my name and I'm off to bed.

-Mark River

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Slider Turtle Shell

John Ruskey Journal

BIG ISLAND Arkansas River Expedition

Wednesday, March 26, Bobtail Bar, Arkansas River, Temp 57F, 90% humidity, wind gusting SE 25mph, choppy waters

Arkansas River Big Island Safari -- critters everywhere: in the sky, in the water, on the land. The good God Lord Creator has blessed with an abundance of sightings and examples of the diversity and vitality of life: raccoon, possum, pigs, coyotes, beaver, eagles thick as thieves, jumping fish (carp), gar, turtles, snakes, butterflies, moths, even few gators poking their noses out of the cold water... We saw a gang of immature bald eagles and a single crow hopping around each other on a particular sandbar and decided to investigate. They all flew off as we approached. Amidst their confusion of tracks we found a fresh buffalo fish torn to pieces. They ate the head first, then the liver, then the heart and some of the guts. Brave crow. Keeping its place at the table with a gang of hungry eagles!

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We Chased 4 Blad Eagles From This Fish

Go see more stories, maps,

river data and photos

on our Big Island blogsite

www.bigmuddyisland.org

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Bald Eagle Tracks in Wet Sand

Please Note: all this week we are presenting photos and journal writing from the BIG ISLAND EXPEDITION 2014 with Mighty Quapaws Mark River, Braxton Barden, John Ruskey and KIPP sophomore (and environmental science student) Kavadous Starr. Every day this week you can paddle with us and enjoy the stories and amazing scenes from last week’s adventure, in day-by-day sequence, the magic and inspiration of the wilderness. Along the way we saw alligators, countless ducks, bald eagles, white pelicans, beaver, raccoons and one possum. One night it dipped into the 20s, one day the wind blew so hard we had to abandon ship and pull the canoe step by step down the riverbank to find shelter. This educational adventure explored the last 45 miles of the Arkansas River, as it flows alongside BIG ISLAND from the Nortrebes Dam to the Mississippi River confluence (and then upstream to the Rosedale Harbor). Go see more stories, maps, river data and photos on blogsite: www.bigmuddyisland.org

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Young Bald Eagle

Paddler’s Celebration!

**Celebrate the Survival of the Mississippi River Guide**

Featuring James “Super Chikan” Johnson

April 9th 4-9pm at Quapaw Canoe Company

3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale, Miss

Mighty Quapaw Fundraiser/Legislative Celebration

Featuring James “Super Chikan” Johnson! Honoring the Mississippi Governor, and the many Representatives and Senators who believed in us -- who authored, altered, fostered, tossed back and forth, and then finally voted in SB 2972, the new Mississippi legislation specifically addressing river guiding companies on navigable waterways, and nature tourism! We have lots to celebrate in this long journey! Also final fundraising effort. We raised $25,000 but the bill has gone up to $37,000 for legal and accounting fees.

Mighty Quapaw Fundraiser/Legislative Celebration:

Please join us on Wed April 9th between 4 and 9pm for a Mighty Quapaw Fundraiser/Legislative Celebration. 4pm Welcome and Booksigning From Azaleas to Zydeco by Mark Nichols. 5-7pm Live Blues featuring Super Chikan and special guests. 7-8pm True Delta Photograph Exhibition by Michael Scanlan. 8-9pm Film: Who Owns Water by David Hanson, Michael Hanson and Andrew Kornylak.

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Long Live the Mississippi River Guide!

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

For recent stories & news with photos:

www.rivergator.org

www.bigmuddyisland.org