History and Science; An Essential Duet for River Conservation

Recently I was down by the Mississippi River with a friend when he remarked, “Look at that tree!” A 30 foot log was barreling downstream in the middle of the 1 mile wide river channel bouncing along the many eddies created by the rushing, brown water. I had heard about large wood rafts that historically clogged up the Red River in Louisiana and many rivers around the world. I tried to imagine what thousands of 30 foot logs floating in the river together would look like and I didn’t get very far before I googled “The Great Raft.” The old images of a massive log jam displayed on my phone were beyond anything I could have imagined.

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Is there enough dirt in the Mississippi River to save the delta?

I know what you’re thinking: dirt flowing down a river doesn’t sound too exciting. But what if I told you this dirt could be the difference between building and losing physical land on our coastlines? Information like how much sediment is flowing down the river, what kind it is, and where it might end up is important in deciding how people will manage coastlines in a delta. For some places, like the Mississippi River Delta, sediment can be the difference between saving and losing precious natural resources, and even people’s homes.

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Throwback Thursday: How did streams and rivers flow before humans started changing things?

Throwbacks aren’t just for old songs and embarrassing childhood photos. Knowing how rivers and streams flowed before people started changing things can help us to create water management practices that are better for the ecological health of these systems. However, the first challenge of throwing it back to these natural flows is just figuring out what these natural flows are.

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