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(Quick Update from Quapaw Canoe Company)

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Big Island

Expedition 2014 Island/_JAR6544.jpg

Mike Clark: "Don't let school get in the way of your education!"

A Learning Adventure March 24-28, 2014

Presented by: Lower Mississippi River Foundation Island/_JAR5373 - Version 3.jpg

Big Island Expedition 2014:

"This Time We're Going Counter-Clockwise!"

On Monday, March 24, 2014 a group of teachers, students and explorers will embark on a 5-day circumnavigation of Big Island by canoe as a learning adventure for the benefit of sponsoring schools and classrooms throughout the region. This will be the second documented circumnavigation of Big Island in the history of its existence and will involve the Arkansas, the White and the Lower Mississippi River. Big Island is thought to be the largest island within the land mass of the Lower 48 states.

Big Island Expedition is presented by the Lower Mississippi River Foundation. Partners include the KIPP Delta Public Schools, US Fish & Wildlife, Audubon Arkansas, MSU Dept of Biology and Quapaw Canoe Company.

Starting at Rosedale, Mississippi, the explorers will paddle upstream the Mighty Mississippi to the White River Confluence, and then paddle up the White River, around several river meanders in the fashion of Lewis & Clark. Along the way we will conduct natural science research and documentation. This portion will involve very difficult upstream paddling, poling and cordelling (the French word for pulling a boat with a long rope). Island/_JAR6656.jpg

The team will be conducting research and documentation into the dark heart of the deepest woods of Big Island. Finding sign of the reclusive Louisiana Black Bear will be one of the tasks at hand, as well as conducting a bird and amphibian count. The team will be collecting data about Pallid Sturgeon for the US Fish & Wildlife and helping Audubon Arkansas with bird data from Big Island. The next challenge will be to locate a suitable back channel oxbow or wetlands to cross over and reach the Arkansas River. A route will have to be scouted through the briars, snake-infested woods and alligator swamps. The explorers will then manually portage all of their gear and canoes from the White River into the Arkansas River, a process that might require one very long muddy day.

Now begins the downstream portion of the adventure. The explorers will paddle approximately forty miles of the Arkansas River, a very remote and wild river which is here surrounded by floodplain, deep forests and the White River National Wildlife Refuge. Various camps will be established for the exploration of some of the most remote bayous and backwaters. One of the goals is locating examples of giant Bald Cypress, a favorite haunt for bears, raccoons, prothonotary warblers and bald eagles. The Arkansas is the biggest and wildest confluence on the entire Lower Mississippi. It is full of black bear, wild boar, birds and strange muddy landscapes. During the Great Flood of 2011 the Arkansas began carving a new outlet to the Mississippi in a violent explosion of water coursing behind Cat Island.

Big Island is a spectacular natural phenomena, a landscape cut by, flooded by and defined by three biggest and most important rivers of deep south, the Mississippi, the Arkansas and the White. This will be the second documented circumnavigation of Big Island in the history of its existence, the first being our last expedition in 2013. Island/_JAR5023.jpg

KIPP Environmental Science Class 2013
(at Arkansas Post)

Stories from the 2013 Big Island Expedition:

Memphis Flyer:

Arkansas Times:

Big Island Blog:

Big Muddy Schoolhouse:

For more information about the Big Island Circumnavigation:

contact John Ruskey

(662) 627-4070 or cell: 902-7841

Lower Mississippi River Foundation, Inc

For access, education & betterment

of public outdoor recreation

on the Lower Mississippi River