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LMRD 786 - Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi River"
Tuesday, July 20, 2020 -- Calm before the Storm

Advance Note:
If you want to get outside, and get on the river, we have figured out how to do it safely, even amongst the challenges of the virus: one person, one family, one group at a time, no mixing & matching, and do your own food and shuttling. Cheaper that way also! See below for more info, or call Allie Grant 662-627-4070, John Ruskey 662-902-7841, or Mark River 662-902-1885, and we'll make it happen! (In Vicksburg-Natchez area call Capt. Layne Logue 601-529-7354).

Mark River Blog:
Factors of Flooding
(photos by John Ruskey)

It's June and the Mississippi River water levels have finally started to drop. Towheads and sandbars are showing their beautiful pink and white sand. Artifacts and fossil sit in plain site on top of gravels beds. Turtle tracks ascend from the waters edge to the top of the sandy bluffs. Towboats are pushing dredge machines up and down the channel.

A configuration of made-made infrastructures are starting to emerge to the surface. Revetments, wing-dams, wedges, levees, and low water dams are essential to keeping the navigational channel assessable for the the trillion dollar towboat industry.

Though the system works well for navigation, over time it changes the topography of the Mississippi River. The wing dams divert the water to the navigational channel, while creating eddy's which slow the water close to shore allowing valuable silt and settlement to accumulate, causing islands and shorelines to continue to grow, while the Louisiana Delta continues to lose land the size of a football field per day.

The infrastructure is causing the River over time to become deeper and more narrow making flood season more violent and destructive. The lack of silt making it to the Louisiana Delta is allowing the salt water to infratrate freshwater ecosystem killing the trees which hold the land together. They die and the saltwater gets closer and closer to our major cities. The accumulation of land in the Louisiana Delta help dissipate violent storms and hurricane before they hit our major cities. With the lose of land , storms and hurricanes are coming further inland before they dissipate causing major natural disasters.

Most of these structures were designed and implemented in the 1940's -1950's after the historic 1927 flood. Rumor has it , the Corps of Engineer studied models from European countries that have sophisticated flood control systems that control navigation and flooding, while keeping the natural infrastructure like wetlands, estuaries, and floodplains in place.

Along with all this, we are experiencing climate change induced storms with heavy winds and violent, heavy rains, which can make rivers rise expeditiously and flow swiftly and relentlessly downstream causing major destruction along the way.

We must find a solution to slow his process down. Become a River Citizen and learn more about our precious 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, and in very limited river trips with discrete groups of clients. 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 River Citizen Program: River Citizens are people who want to clean up and protect America’s greatest River. Whether in armchairs or wading boots, River Citizens protect the River by speaking up on its behalf and caring for it in simple ways that make a big difference. Together, we can protect the River for future generations. Take the first step today and sign up for free as a River Citizen at 1Mississippi, can the River count on you?"


We Can't Breathe

We at Quapaw Canoe Company are shocked, hurt and angered by the murder of George Floyd, and systemic violence towards our Black brothers & sisters, and subsequent injustices suffered by non-violent protestors, by ethical police trying to do their job, and by the many innocent people across our great nation. This is not what we are about. The right to breathe is the most basic of human needs. The right to clean water would have to be second. Everything we do at QCC is about a good, healthy life for all. We can’t breathe in this kind of atmosphere.

If you would like to read more about our internal rationale, please go to end of newsletter for a description of our core values and how they apply to this difficult time in our nation’s history.


Balance, Diversity, Democracy

Quapaw Canoe Company core values are balance, diversity, and democracy, which all derive from our experience paddling big canoes on the big waters of North America. Balance is exemplified by the passage of our canoes. Everything we do is about keeping even keel. To do otherwise is dangerous to our health and well-being. Pandemic and police brutality are symptoms of the imbalance we seek to counteract in our services and work as canoe builders, guides & outfitters. Other imbalances include species loss, global warming, and loss of wild places. Diversity for us includes all peoples and all creatures great and small. We have always created equal access for all. Our staff reflects our regional demographics, around 60% Black and 40% White. Since 1998 we have made it our mission to make sure all communities found along the Lower Mississippi River enjoy equal access to the wonders of the big river, and the life changing experience of the wilderness. Our adventures practice the best qualities of Democracy. Everyone in the big canoe sets aside their differences and paddles together for the good of the whole. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Inherent in life is the right to breathe clean air, the right to drink clean water, the right to eat good food, and the right to live in healthy shelter, in healthy communities.