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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

No 265, Wednesday, Nov 12th, 2014

All photos from recent classroom paddle to Buck Island with kids, parents and teachers from 5th/6th grade PDS, music by Ben Weaver and educational presentations by OAR NW. Where would we take our kids if we didn't have the Clean Water Act protecting our waters? Friday Deadline to help keep the Clean Water Act Alive! See below for more...

Never a bad word about anyone

Has this ol’ river ever spoke

If I was the prairie

I’d miss the buffalo

I ain’t going back

I ain’t going back there no more

There’s water on both sides

Nothing ever happens twice

I ain’t going back

- From “I Ain’t Going Back”

by Ben Weaver

Deadline Friday Nov 12th:

Fine Tuning:

The 1972 Clean Water Act

The 1972 Clean Water Act saved the Mississippi River from the ravages of the industrial era. It helped turn the Mississippi River into the delightful waterway where today paddlers can enjoy forays into some of the last vestiges of wild places in the big belly of our country -- the Midwest, Mid South, the Deep South. We can now swim in the Mississippi (in most places!) and our children can do the same. Without fear of contamination. The greater Mississippi Valley is a healthy breeding ground and migratory route for millions of bird and fish. These are incredible blessings that we take as givens… But the law protecting our river needs attention.

Like all things concerning human-kind and the law, the Clean Water Act needs some periodic fine tuning. In recent years, there has been a lot of confusion and controversy over whether smaller streams and certain wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. As a result, some waters have been opened up for industrial dumping, while others have become harder to protect. Without a clear definition of what is protected, 59% of our streams and at least 20% of our wetlands are threatened.

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (known as the Clean Water Act -- CWA) is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.

“Don’t it always seem to go?

That you don’t know what you have

-- ‘til it’s gone?..."

(Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi)

Friday Nov 15th Deadline:

Clean Water Act Comment Period

Please read below and send a letter to your reps in Congress. For more info and help with writing an effective letter, go to:

-- OR --

Calling all River Rats!

From the 1 Mississippi Action Desk:

Support Clarifying the Clean Water Act

Since 2008, over 400,000 requests have been sent by a wide variety of groups (including farmers, state and local officials and members of Congress) asking the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to make the Clean Water Act easier to understand. In response, the EPA and the Army Corps collaborated with all invested parties to create a new rule that clarifies existing law and ensures clean water protections for streams and wetlands, which many consider to be two of our nation’s great natural resources.

We should all help ensure this important rule
is adopted by showing our support for the updated
Clean Water Act definition of the “Waters of the U.S.”

The proposed rule would clarify existing laws, increase government efficiency and make our water cleaner by better defining which rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands the Clean Water Act protects from industrial pollution, oil spills and outright destruction. Special consideration for agricultural concerns is addressed and the new rule will strengthen our nation’s farming community by avoiding economic burden and by bringing certainty and predictability to agriculture.

In recent years, there has been a lot of confusion and controversy over whether smaller streams and certain wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. As a result, some waters have been opened up for industrial dumping, while others have become harder to protect. Without a clear definition of what is protected, 59% of our streams and at least 20% of our wetlands are threatened.

But these wetlands and streams matter and should be protected. Smaller streams, creeks and wetlands help reduce flooding, supply drinking water and provide critical support and habitat for fish and wildlife in downstream waters. And, as any kid who grew up near a creek can attest, small streams provide access to adventures, exploration and wildlife; they truly are some of our most treasured—and accessible—places.

As part of the official rulemaking process, we can insist that EPA and the Corps ensure automatic protection for all streams and wetlands scientifically proven to have significant connections to downstream waters. This helps the Mississippi River by protecting the water feeding into it.

We expect strong opposition to this rule from institutions that use our rivers, streams and wetlands as dumping grounds. Regretfully these polluters have the ear of many members of Congress and are working hard to defeat the rule. Don’t let them block this noble effort!

Show your support for this clean water rule by sending a comment to the EPA and we will copy your Representative in Congress so they hear your voice as well. Together we can ensure the Clean Water Act's definition of "Waters of the U.S." is finalized and our waters protected.

The Mississippi River Network and the Mississippi River Collaborative are working together to ensure you have the best information available and a clear path to take action.

Go to:

...and follow the prompts to send a letter of support to your Reps and Sens in Congress. Friday is the Deadline for comments.

McKellar Lake Clean-up: November 15th 9 a.m. to Noon

(From Colton Cockrum and the Memphis River Warriors)

We have a big clean-up this weekend at McKellar Lake (1875 McKellar Lake Drive). We’ll be launching by boat to the mouth of Nonconnah Creek, an area that is incredibly dense with trash. From there, we’ll be picking up trash and separating the recyclables. A recycling truck/compactor provided by the University of Memphis will be on-site to remove all recyclable material. A few things to remember:

1.) Wear durable shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty

2.) Dress in layers. Will be cooler in the morning and turning off nice later on

3.) Bring a water bottle (we’ll have water available, but it never hurts to bring some for yourself)

4.) We provide gloves, trash bags, and water for volunteers.

5.) This clean-up will represent the 100,000 pound of trash removed from Memphis’ waterways. This is possible because of the 2,100 Memphis River Warriors who have participated in a clean-up over the past 3 and a half years!

For more info about cleanup, please send email to to Colton Cockrum <>

Frosty Beaver Moon

Thank You

Special Thanks to Ben Weaver and OAR NW for a successful fundraiser for the Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program -- and thanks to all of you who came -- and those who couldn’t come but sent donations -- we raised $765 on the night of the Full Frosty Beaver Full Moon. The next day we all went out on the river with over 40 local kids, parents, teachers, and us Quapaws for a big river learning adventure where Markus and Pat from OAR NW shared stories and taught class on the sandbar and Ben blessed our lunch with one of his songs called “I Ain’t Going Back” from the recently recorded & released I Would Rather be a Buffalo. You can follow the OAR NW Mississippi River Adventure and Ben Weaver at the below links. Good journeys to these hard-working good-spirited people. If you live in downstream of us, like downstream in Vicksburg, Natchez, St. Francisville, Baton Rouge or New Orleans, they are now on your way. We always meet the best people on the river! If you are a teacher interested in our OAR Northwest's Adventure: Mississippi River program all you need to get started is at:

From Ben Weaver’s Banjo Blog:

Day 18 and 19 and 20. Winding through the Mississippi meander belt. Reached Clarksdale. The storied highways. 49. 61. Delta texture. Colors. Chipped paint. Peeling paint. Caved in paint. Eggleston landscape. Quapaw Canoe Company. Songs around the fire. Surprise from love. Went out in the big canoes with John Ruskey and his crew. 22 fifth and sixth graders. Ate lunch on a giant sand bar. Buck island. White pelicans kettling in the thermals. The black undersides of their wings like switch blades in a mirror. Sang a lunch blessing. John walking barefoot through the woods with his Bowie knives hanging off his belt. Carving willow branches into roasting sticks for the kids. Seemed like a dream watching them all run free, explore, wade and touch the river, mud and sand. Shouting out "This is the best day ever." Experience is learning. Experience lasts. Tugs pushing 6x7 barges, 42 unique containers. Met the guys from OARS Northwest. Rowing two boats from Itasca to the gulf, taking water samples and teaching kids along the way. The smell of boxwood in the sun. Broke 1000 miles. First flat tires. The river keeps getting wider. BW

From Ben Weaver’s Blog at:

RIVERGATOR 2014/2015

Upcoming Rivergator Expeditions You can join!

Nov 15-25

St. Louis to Caruthersville

307 miles on the Mississippi River from the Missouri River Confluence, past the Ohio River Confluence, all the way down the Missouri Bootheel to Caruthersville.

Celebrating the Middle/Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Dec 6-16

Vicksburg to Baton Rouge

207 miles on the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, down the Loess Bluffs past Natchez, St. Francisville and ending in Baton Rouge.

Celebrating the Lower Mississippi River Water Trail


March 2015: Atchafalaya River Expedition

From Three Rivers WMA to the Gulf of Mexico

via Simmesport, Krotz Springs, Flat Lake and Morgan City with side trips down mysterious side channels and bayous, and fantastic birding, amphibians, and exploration along the way!

April 2015: Rivergator Expedition:

Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico

including Plaquemines, New Orleans and Venice (bring your haz mat suits and respirator)

October/November 2015:

Rivergator Completion Celebration Expedition:

St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico

1180 miles on the Middle and Lower Mississippi River! Start: Missouri River Confluence. End: salty waters of the Carribean.

Administrative Assistant Update: Last week we ran an announcement about a new position being created at Quapaw Canoe Company, an Administrative Assistant (with Mud Between their Toes). This might be the perfect opening for some river-infected soul... but it's the less glamorous side of the guiding & oufitting business... While the guides are out on the water, someone has to be at base answering the phone, fielding questions, talking to kids, and keeping the creditors happy. Of course it involves a healthy dose of the outdoors... and a great group of guys and gals to be associated with... real river rats like Lil' Jer and Cricket and Ojay and Woody and Dinky and Junebug and Ladybug and Grasshopper and River and Brax and Popeye and DeShaunte and Lil' Mike and Dare and Driftwood and Dingo and Mel and Smooth Brother E and many other characters and beautiful mud-seasoned voyageur canoes! Please see below for expanded details. Please share with your friends and family. Please feel free to re-run on your network. Thank you and many blessings from us Mighty Quapaws!

October 15, 2014

For Immediate Release:

Help Wanted: Administrative Assistant (with muddy feet!)

Description: Quapaw Canoe Company (QCC) seeks a part-time administrative assistant for its Clarksdale, Mississippi, location. Tasks include answering phone, keeping office, public presentation, booking river trips, accounting, help with expedition logistics, and other tasks typical to a river-guiding company. This position is a combination of secretary, interpreter and travel agent.

Requirements: Must be friendly and people-oriented. Must be good with kids as well as adults. Must have good communication skills, and be able to speak comfortably with individuals as well as groups. Must be a capable writer and typist. Must be computer savvy (both Microsoft and Apple systems). Knowledge of Quickbooks a plus. Ability with Social Media a plus. Must be willing to tackle challenges and learn new skills. We will train as needed. Must be a good team member, but also must able to work independently. Must be passionate about the outdoors and the American wilderness ethic. Must be physically capable of outdoor tasks (such as canoeing and kayaking) and moving heavy equipment in preparation and/or cleanup of expeditions. Must have own personal vehicle and current driver’s license. Must be honest, earnest and hard-working. We are all worker bees in this company; the river is the queen.

Other Helpful Skills (but not requirements): Experience in nature tourism. Wilderness First Aid, or other medical training. Creative writing. Youth Outdoor Programming and Leadership. Natural Sciences. Adobe software. Grant-writing.

About Us: Quapaw Canoe Company is a mission-driven small business based in Clarksdale, Miss, with river outposts in Helena, Ark and Natchez, Miss. We are dedicated to exploring and sharing the beauty and wildness of the Lower Mississippi River and its muddy tributaries in human powered vessels. We are dedicated to passing on the love of the river to the next generation.

Details: Accepting applications through Thanksgiving 2014. Start Date: Feb 1, 2015 (flexible). Pay commensurate with experience, skills and work history, but will initiate with 2-week trial run at $10/hr. Will help relocate if needed. No benefits at present. Part-time position might grow into full-time with the right person. Will compensate any job-related mileage according to state formula.

To Apply: Please send 1) current resume, 2) an essay describing your interest, 3) three references, and 4) personal letter to: John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company, 291 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614, or by email to Feel free to write at length. Feel free to send any other supporting materials to help us understand who you are and where your passion for the river comes from.

Tasks: Quapaw Canoe Company is a small, mission-driven, dynamic business with many types of service including guiding & outfitting, outdoor education, and canoe construction. Applicant must be willing to tackle challenges and learn new skills. We will train as needed. All QCC employees share in all aspects of the work to be done.

Tasks for the administrative position include:

Office Tasks:

  • Meeting and greeting of visitors and clients.

- Arranging educational workshops and presentations.

- Maintaining calendar and keeping schedule of events up to date.

  • Taking notes at meetings. Preparing minutes, memos, reports, and other organizational tasks.

- Internet tasks such as online research and upkeep of social media.

- Accounting details such as maintenance of records, spreadsheets, input of data, billings, payments, taxes and etc.

  • Light cleaning around office and canoe/kayak outfitting base

- Taking payments for expeditions

- Managing the signing of waivers for expeditions

- Answering phone calls and emails and booking trips for expeditions.

- Food purchases for expeditions

- Other responsibilities as the need arises

Additional tasks for the administrative position might include:

Program Tasks:

- Possibly some photography, videography and other forms of documentation

- Possibly working with youth in after-school programs and outdoor training

Guiding & Outfitting Tasks:

- Cleaning of canoes & kayaks. Cleaning tents and sleeping bags and other camping equipment in between expeditions.

- Moving canoes, tents, water bottles, and other equipment in preparation for guided expeditions. Must be able to lift up to 50 pounds.

- Shuttling, driving, and other transportation needs

- rentals of canoes and kayaks and stand up paddleboards (for the Sunflower River)

- Some outfitting and rentals of canoes, kayaks, SUPs, and related gear for the Mississippi River

- Possibly some canoe & kayak maintenance as needed, also paddles, pfds and tents

- Possibly some guiding in canoes or kayaks. Must be physically fit. Must be able to engage in continuous aerobic exercise for several hours at a time.

- Possibly some cooking on expeditions

Note: And possibly other responsibilities as the need arises. All duties are undertaken in the overall QCC mission of bringing good attention to the Lower Mississippi River. Employee responsibilities often overlap.

To Apply: Please send 1) current resume, 2) an essay describing your interest, 3) Three references (or letters of reference) and 4) personal letter to: John Ruskey, Quapaw Canoe Company, 291 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614, or by email to Feel free to write at length. Feel free to send any other supporting materials to help us understand who you are and where your passion for the river comes from.

Calling all River Rats!

Friday Nov 15th Deadline:

Clean Water Act Comment Period

-- OR --

Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

brought to you courtesy of the:

Lower Mississippi River Foundation

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