Our country is battling inevitable struggles daily, like those that involve the coast and the Mississippi River’s Deltaic plain. The Mississippi drains 31 US states and two Canadian provinces. It is no secret that the Mississippi River is the major artery that pumps life across North America.
Speaking to the significance of river wildlife, the National Park Service released statistics on what a vital role the Mississippi River plays in our ecosystem:
The Mississippi River and its floodplain are home to a diverse population of living things: At least 260 species of fish, 25% of all fish species in North America; Forty percent of the nation’s migratory waterfowl use the river corridor during their Spring and Fall migration; Sixty percent of all North American birds (326 species) use the Mississippi River Basin as their migratory flyway; From Cairo, IL upstream to Lake Itasca there are 38 documented species of mussel. On the Lower Mississippi, there may be as many as 60 separate species of mussel; The Upper Mississippi is host to more than 50 mammal species; At least 145 species of amphibians and reptiles inhabit the Upper Mississippi River environs.
Not only does the Mississippi River house a healthy number of our nation’s wildlife, but it also alleviates excess water coming from the rest of the country and carries it out into the Gulf of Mexico, acting as an enormous drain. Although the Mississippi River preforms a multitude of tasks, it remains one of the most polluted rivers in the U.S.. Species living in and around the Mississippi River are dying and some parts of the Mississippi River are even unsafe to swim in.
Luckily, the Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act has made slight advances in improving water quality via water treatment plants. Unfortunately, more effort is needed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get states to unify and participate in protecting the Mississippi River. The National Academy of Science explains, “Efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution are hampered by inconsistencies among the ten Mississippi River corridor states in their water quality standards (consisting of designated uses and water quality criteria) and monitoring programs.” These inconsistencies are inflicting irreversible damage on America’s most prominent river.
To get involved and see what you can do to help save the health of one of America’s most remarkable rivers, please visit http://mississippiriverdelta.org/