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LMRD 775 - Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
Earth Day, Wed, April 22, 2020
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"

50th Earth Day

In recognition of the 50th Earth Day, Mark River puts pen to paper from his tent on a remote Mississippi River sandbar (about to go under in the rising spring floodwaters). Regardless of what is happening with homo sapiens, the rest of creation is alive and functioning. We "2-leggeds-without-wings" always have a choice: to live our lives in harmony with creation for the betterment of all -- or to live only for ourselves, to the betterment of none. Photos from Spring Artist's Retreat by John Ruskey and Robin Whitfield.

Mark River Blog:
One Love, One Life, One Mississippi River

The Sun rises on a Saturday in March as I lie on a sandbar peninsula watching the Mississippi River rolling past the small bay before me. It has been cloudy for months, so a sunny day in the Delta is well received. It's the warmest day of the year to date -- 81 degrees. The River is moving rapidly headed towards Burkes Point, but glistening like ice sheets in the tundra. The water temperature is in the low 50s, so there's a wonderful cool breeze being refracted from the surface. The bay that's partially surrounding me is usually a willow and cottonwood forest with high sandy bluffs connected by mudflats. Today, though, during high water, there are old willow, cottonwood, and ancient cypress columns rising from the shallows like stalagmites, surrounded by mounds of sand resembling turtle shells.

Seasoned driftwood piles up in an eddy while fish feed at the connection of the two waterways. An immature bald eagle hovers over the shallows occasionally faking a dive only to continue on into the sky. The River gauge shows a rise of 1.5 feet in the next 48 hours, but we have no worries, being camped on high bluffs of sand. If anything, we will wake up to our own personal islands within the island. The big sandy island we have inhabited for the week is slowly changing to an archipelago of islands as we watch the water flow into the low-lying mudflats. Many species of fish flop in the surf following the surge hoping to be the first to harvest ground dwelling insects being flushed from land homes. Frogs serenade each other while coyotes yelp in the distance. The 80 degree day brings the hibernating mosquitoes out from underneath decaying cottonwood leaves and initiats a hatch in the swamps in the middle of the island. Towboats take advantage of high water moving swiftly downstream while utilizing back channels moving upstream. Songbirds sing in the canopy, while tree leaves bloom before your eyes.

After a morning of enjoying the sounds and settings of nature, my mind quickly returns to the health crisis on the mainland. Months ago at the end of 2019, I experienced an instinctive muse -- like animals acting strangely before a natural disaster -- on Montuzema Island, like something was out of sorts in the natural world.

Now I know my instincts were real. There's an imbalance In our natural world. Some see these occurrences as coincidental, but I see them as warnings of what we can do better. If a flu-like disease can infiltrate our world so effortlessly and efficiently, I have to ask myself: "What would happen to our country if the water in the Mississippi River was compromised?"

This brings me to the strict regulations that are needed to protect and preserve our most valuable resource of our country, The Mississippi River. Unfortunately our profit-driven administration is willing to risk the health and well-being of the country by lifting restrictions and regulations to give industries and developers incentives to build along the Mississippi River watershed -- thereby destroying and polluting wetlands, tributaries, and floodplains for the sake of greed.

These natural infrastructures are critical for flooding and systemic overall health of the River and all the species it sustains. The Clean Water Act of 1972 was created for their safeguard. No matter what religion, politics, or culture you identify with, we all need water. Let's use this health crisis as a wake-up call to protect our basic right to clean fresh water. Go to and help protect the Mississippi River.

One Love, One Life, One Mississippi River.

Mark River

Mark River is chief guide and youth leader for the Quapaw Canoe Company. He is also southern leader of the 1Mississippi Program, which connects people who care about rivers with the people who make decisions about rivers. He is self-isolating in the canoe shop for construction of the next big canoe. His blog writing is inspired by his work on the Mississippi River -- and its many tributaries such as the Big Sunflower and the Arkansas Rivers.

1Mississippi -- Can the River Count on You?
Quapaw Canoe Company -- Ongoing Exhibit and Southern campaign headquarters for the 1Mississippi River Citizen Program

Once virus is calmed down, come on over for a visit, and learn about how you can help protect and better the waters of America -- our drinking water, swimming water and lifeblood of the nation. Become a River Citizen and join us in making the Mississippi River sparkle like the beautiful “Queen of Rivers” that she is. Contact: Mark “River” Peoples 662-902-1885 or email


The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to www.island63.comand click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.


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