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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

Vol 9 No 1d, Monday January 28, 2013

Oil Spill

Oh dear, this is awful. We always hear about things like this happening in the New Orleans area. Not in our wild forested big island areas between Memphis and Baton Rouge -- the “Wild Miles.” Last night one (maybe two) oil barges hit the Vicksburg Bridge and leaked an unknown amount of oil into the river, which has been shut down to traffic in that area. The injured tank was ferrying 80,000 gallons of crude oil. As of this morning the Coast Guard said that it has been contained, but what the exact condition of the damaged barge remains to be seen. According to the Los Angeles Times the barge is owned by the Nature’s Way Marine Company which seems to have a long history of irresponsible operations on the Lower Miss. An oil sheen has been noted in the vicinity. Let’s hope that not much oil was lost and that it will be swiftly contained and removed from our beloved river. All downstream islands, back channels and other places touched by the river will be affected. Be forewarned any paddlers, fishermen or any other river users in the Port Gibson, Natchez, Fort Adams, St. Francisville and places downstream. The river is still pushing upwards and into places long untouched by water during this long drought. Will these tainted waters be pushed up into pristine oxbow wetlands such as Yucatan (near Port Gibson) and Old River (near Vidalia)? Dear God, we hope not.

River Report

Warm and humid air masses moving up the valley, thunderstorms tomorrow followed by high winds out of the west and a return to more winter-like conditions following with a northerlies. The river has crested is now falling at Memphis (22.8) and Helena (31.2) but is still rising below the mouth of the Arkansas River.


CAPE GIRARDEAU 32 7.3 -0.6 6.7 6.0 5.5 5.1 4.9

NEW MADRID 34 26.5 -0.9 24.5 21.4 18.0 15.2 13.6

TIPTONVILLE 37 29.4 -0.9 28.3 25.7 22.3 19.2 17.0

CARUTHERSVILLE 32 27.8 -0.7 27.0 25.2 22.5 19.5 17.0

OSCEOLA 28 23.1 -0.6 22.2 21.0 18.2 14.5 11.1

MEMPHIS 34 22.8 -0.3 22.1 21.1 19.0 15.8 12.2

TUNICA 41 34.6 -0.3 34.1 33.2 31.9 29.1 25.2

HELENA 44 31.2 -0.1 30.9 30.1 29.1 26.8 23.4

ARKANSAS CITY 37 26.6 +0.2 26.5 26.2 25.5 24.5 22.4

GREENVILLE 48 37.7 +0.2 37.7 37.5 37.1 36.3 35.1

VICKSBURG 43 33.6 +0.3 33.8 33.8 33.7 33.3 32.5

NATCHEZ 48 41.6 +0.3 41.8 42.0 42.0 42.0 41.6

RED RIVER LNDG 48 43.7 +0.3 43.9 44.2 44.3 44.4 44.4

BATON ROUGE 35 28.4 +0.3 28.6 28.8 28.9 29.0 29.1

DONALDSONVILLE 27 19.5 +0.3 19.7 19.9 20.0 20.1 20.1

RESERVE 22 14.5 +0.2 14.7 14.9 15.0 15.1 15.1

NEW ORLEANS /17/ 10.3 +0.2 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8

Canadian Voyageurs

As the long cold nights of winter linger on through January and into February two long-distance voyageurs are slowly making their way downstream the Lower Mississippi River, Dom Liboiron and Rod Wellington, on separate expeditions. Rod started last year in snowshoes and then a kayak at the furthest headwaters of the Missouri River, at Bowers Springs (near the Idaho border of Montana), while Dom put in on the last year along one of the Canadian headwaters of the Big Muddy, the Frenchman River of Saskatchewan, which leads into Montana's Milk River, the Milk into the Missouri. Both are headed for the Gulf of Mexico, Dom might be entering salt water as you are reading this. Rod’s journey down the longest river system in North America is just the first of his “Magnificent Seven” Expedition with which he intends to paddle the seven longest rivers on seven continents.

These two intrepid paddlers were the last long-distance paddlers on the Lower Miss in 2012, and now are the first paddlers for 2013. They are enduring cold winds and rains, snow storms, and short bursts of sunny weather. These guys are tough. Not surprisingly both are Canadian. Maybe they were inspired by Canadian Brett Rogers whose “Old Man River Project’ team were the last paddlers on the river in 2009?

(Note: technically there is a third “Miss River” expedition still out there, led by ne’er-do-well river rat Jake Tully who is currently paddling the inter-coastal waterways of the Florida Panhandle en route of the BIG LOOP, but started on the Wabash River in Indiana in the late Summer of 2012 -- of course the Wabash leads to the Ohio and the Ohio to the Lower Mississippi… Jake was joined by the legendary Jerry Bell (of “Nobody” fame) from Memphis to New Orleans, where Curtis Lambert jumped aboard...)

Dom Liboiron is in or below New Orleans and nearing the end of his Odyessey while Rod Wellington is approaching Memphis, and so has yet another 700+ miles to reach the sea. To see photos, updates and news stories about these river-wizened Canadian voyageurs, go visit their official websites -- or for all activity on the Lower Mississippi you can make a one stop visit to the Lower Mississippi River Paddlers (a Facebook Group).

Lower Mississippi River Paddlers

Rod Wellington

Dom Liboiron

Big Island Circumnavigation

In the same voyageur spirit we will be conducting a 10-day circumnavigation of BIG ISLAND at the end of February for the students of St. Ann of Normandy (St. Louis) and the KIPP: Delta Public Schools of Helena, Arkansas. You can help make this learning adventure come to life with a donation to the newly formed a 501(c)3 non-profit, the Lower Mississippi River Foundation, which is presenting this expedition. See below. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Circumnavigation of Big Island

A Learning Adventure February 18-28, 2013

Presented by: Lower Mississippi River Foundation

On Monday, February 18, 2013 Mike Clark & John Ruskey and a team of Mighty Quapaws will embark on a 10-day circumnavigation of Big Island by canoe as a learning adventure for the benefit of sponsoring schools and classrooms throughout the region.

Starting at Rosedale Mississippi the explorers will paddle downstream the Mighty Mississippi to the Arkansas River Confluence, and make base camp #1 for several days of natural science research and documentation. The Arkansas is the biggest and wildest confluence on the entire Lower Mississippi, full of 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.

The explorers will next paddle up the great Arkansas River 43 miles, around several dozen giant river meanders in the fashion of Lewis & Clark. This portion will involve very difficult upstream paddling, poling and cordelling (the French word for pulling a boat with a long rope). At Base Camp #2 the adventure duo will continue research and documentation in 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 for US Fish & Wildlife as well as participating in the annual bird count for the National Audubon Society. The next challenge will be to locate a suitable back channel oxbow or wetlands to cross over and reach the White 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 Arkansas River to the White River, a process that might require one long dirty day.

Now begins the downstream portion of the adventure. The explorers will paddle approximately twenty miles of the White River, a very remote and wild river which is here surrounded by the White River National Wildlife Refuge. Base Camp #3 will be established for the exploration of some of the most remote bayous around which are found the giant Bald Cypress, a favorite haunt for bears, raccoons, prothonotary warblers and bald eagles. The mouth of the Mississippi is now fenced at the White by its newest lock and dam, through which the adventurers will have to negotiate by being flushed through a 1200 foot lock chamber controlled by 120-ton steel gates. The last segment of the journey is a 25 mile run down the Mighty Mississippi, along the way the explorers will visit a steamboat wreck (the Victor) which was exposed in the 2011 Flood, as well as the old channel of the White behind Montgomery Island.

Big Island is a truly 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 first documented circumnavigation of Big Island in the history of its existence.

Participation level:

____Corporate Sponsorship $2500

____School Sponsorship $1000 (Sponsor one of the schools involved)

____Individual Sponsorship $500 (Sponsor one of the classrooms involved)

____Business Sponsorship $250

____Private Individual $100

____ Other: $__________

Thank you! Any donation will help bring our kids to the river -- and the river to our kids. Leave no child on shore!

Please make out check and send to:

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614

Please contact John Ruskey for more information or call 662-902-7841.

Quapaw Canoe Co.

2013 Schedule

February, 2013

Saturday, Feb 16th, 12 noon

Friends of the Sunflower River

General Annual Membership Meeting

12 noon on the Deck of the Sunflower Walk

(3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi, next to Quapaw Canoe Company)

Feb 18-28, 2013

Circumnavigation of Big Island

10-day circumnavigation of Big Island by canoe as a learning adventure for the benefit of sponsoring schools and classrooms throughout the region. Big Island is a truly 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 first documented canoe circumnavigation of Big Island in the history of its existence. With “Big Muddy” Mike of Big Muddy Adventures for the students and teachers of St. Ann's of Normandy (St. Louis).

March, 2013


The Helena Outpost of Quapaw Canoe Company will be moving into a new permanent location set into the river levee at 107 Perry with dugout canoe carving, artwork, maps, river rocks & fossils, fantastic driftwood, and an impressive collection of canoes, kayaks and stand-up-paddleboards (SUPs) all awaiting your use on the Mississippi River to now public-use Buck Island and the mouth of the St. Francis River.

April, 2013

Saturday, April 6th

Naturefest at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science paddling on the Pearl River with the Mighty Quapaws!

May, 2013

High Water Tour #1

Greenville Bends

5-day circumnavigation of the legendary Greenville Bends, storied loops of the Lower Mississippi River, moonshiner haven, river pirates and ancient native homeland, rich forests and vibrant wildlife.

High Water Tour #2

Arkansas City to Vicksburg

126 miles. One week exploration of the Lower Mississippi River from Choctaw Island to the mouth of the Yazoo River at Vicksburg.

June, 2013

High Water Tour #3

Chickasaw Bluffs

Caruthersville to Memphis

113 miles. One week exploration of the Big River from Caruthersville, Missouri to Memphis, Tennessee with visits to all four of the legendary Chickasaw Bluffs and paddling past the mouths of most of the important tributary rivers of Western Tennessee, the Obion, the Hatchie, the Loosahatchie and the Wolf.

High Water Tour #4

Upper Mississippi Delta

Memphis to Helena

73 miles. 4-day exploration of the all of the many habitats found aloung the Lower Mississippi River leaving from from Memphis, Tennessee and dropping into the wild Mississipi Delta, past all of the casinos and big islands, and the mouth of the St. Francis River.

October, 2013

Artist's Retreat 2013

For sculptors, writers, photographers, poets, painters -- for whoever you are and whatever your passion is. Join artists Robin Whitfield and John Ruskey for a 10-day retreat into the inspiring and rejuvenating wilderness of the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Base camp will be established on remote island deep in the river wilderness near the Arkansas River confluence. Your work will be refreshed and you will return home with a reinvigorated appeal for life.

This Spring

Get to know YOUR river!

John Ruskey

Quapaw Canoe Company

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614