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Lower Mississippi

River Dispatch

Vol 10 No 4b, Friday, April 4, 2014

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Mark River Blog

Arkansas River-Big Island-Day 2

Big Island-Arkansas River

Day 3

We start the day early in order to meet with a friendly forester willing to discuss the checks and balances involving trees and the river. With forestry being an interesting subject with the Environmental Science class at KIPP Delta schools, it was only right to set up future collaborations for our forever growing virtual classroom.

Within the distance I see a human figure standing on a peninsula separating the the main channel and a back channel. It's Mike Staten, the forester of the Anderson Tulley operation greeting us as we pull ashore. Introductions follow as Kavadous and I go exploring the chute while Driftwood converses with the forester.

Kavadous says, "What are those?" Pointing to the clear clusters floating in the small stagnant pool.

I reply, "Those are frog eggs."

I continue, "Those pools are very important for the reproduction of reptiles and amphibians."

We continue on fighting a swift headwind until we decide to cordelle down to the next campsite. While cordelling, we found a dead pelican and decided to give it a respectful burial.

We finally reach our destination. A beautiful peninsula bluff overlooking the Arkansas River with a viewing arc of 180 degrees. A storm is coming, so the crew prepare tents ready to "hunker down," for the evening.

Kavadous looks at me and asked, "If it rains, will this area flood?"

I reply jokingly, "It's possible."

He reponds, "Well I better sleep with my life jacket on!"

We share a laugh and wait for the storm as the wind picks up blowing through the trees. I take my hat off and let the breeze flow between my "cypress knees,” inhaling the fresh clean air of the river. Storms are one of nature’s best shows on the river.

-Mark River

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Driftwood Johnnie Journal

BIG ISLAND Arkansas River Expedition

Thursday, March 27, Wells Point, Arkansas River, Temp 45F, 100% humidity, winds variable 5-10mph, light rain.

As we were paddling down a secret chute into an old channel of the Arkansas, 15 year old KIPP sophomore Kavadous Starr remarked "this is better than television!" Earlier Forester/Biologist Mike Staten met us and shared stories from BIG ISLAND animals, families, hunting guides, birds and trees. Still some giants amongst the 20,000 acres created by the meeting of the Arkansas, White and Mississippi rivers. One cypress elder is 34 feet in circumference. We have been seeing lots of swallows, which Mike identified as bank swallows. He told us about the warblers on Big Island. Like the Cerulean Warbler. And the Swainson’s Warbler. According to an ornithologist’s estimate 1% of all the Swainson’s Warblers in North America nest on Big Island. Another superlative for a superlative island!

In Mike’s words: “The other warbler that needs early succession and cane habitat is the Swainson’s Warbler. Cerulean Warbler males like a big cottonwood or sycamore to sing in while the female nests in mid-story trees under them. The epicenter of their range is more of the Appalachian Mountains, so the delta is just in the edge of their range."

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Today was so windy we had to cordelle our canoe down the river, a maneuver usually reserved for upstream paddling. We were losing control of the canoe, so we dove into shore and unrolled the lines, and then walked down the shoreline into gusts up to 40 mph. We found a dead pelican and lots of strange rootballs along the way. Cordelling -- downstream? The Cordelle: a voyageur's technique normally employed in difficult upstream sections of the river (as in Lewis & Clark up the Missouri) put to good use on a very windy day going down the Arkansas River. Winds gusting to 40 mph made paddling unsafe. We went to shore and pulled the canoe step-by-step down the golden chalky colored banks of the Arkansas. We discovered a White Pelican dead along the banks. Cause of death, unknown.

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Kavadous Starr Journal

Third Day, Third Night

As we cordelled the canoe through the knee high water we came upon a dead seagull. We gave it a good send off along with our blessings. Then we continued cordelling to a spot to eat lunch. We found a nice spot with beautiful animal tracks and more. Then that lunch spot turned into our campsite because there was a bad storm coming in. So we camped out there and set up tents and made a fire. And then we went into the tents. That’s when the storm started to hit, but it was good because of sleep-wise. So we all went to sleep.

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Sample #2

Arkansas River

Main Channel

Bobtail Bend

5’ off Sandbar

Wed, Mar 26

6:10pm

Temp: 13.5 C

DO: 6.5 mg/l

pH: 6.50

Turbidity: 70.74%T @ 430mm

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Go see more stories, maps,

river data and photos

on our Big Island blogsite

www.bigmuddyisland.org

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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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. Long Live the Mississippi River Guide!

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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