November-December 2022




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Links from the November-December 2022 issue

backchannelradio.org
Wolf Spider Radio Winona, Minn. — A new podcast is telling the story of the Wolf Spider Island boathouse community (also known locally as Latsch Island.) The six-part series is written and hosted by Gina Favano, an artist and musician who lives on Wolf Spider Island. The first three episodes include an introduction to boathouses, a feature on Wolf Spider Island historian John Rupkey and an overview of the fight with government agencies to maintain the community.

Carp Herpes in Storm Lake
Herpes killed thousands of common carp in Iowa’s Storm Lake this summer, creating a smelly, decomposing mess as they washed up on shore. It’s the first time the virus has been detected in Iowa. Herpes also killed carp in Fountain Lake in Albert Lea, Minn., a state where it’s been detected in wild populations since 2017. In Wisconsin, the fish virus first appeared in 2015, in the Rock River near Horicon. Koi herpes thrives when water temps reach the 70s, but carp numbers are expected to bounce back, making the virus an unlikely candidate as a biological control measure for unwanted, invasive carp. The koi herpes virus does not affect humans..

Climate Resilience La Crosse, Wis.
This fall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association and the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota are looking into ways to enhance climate resilience in communities along the Upper Mississippi. The program is based on the results of roundtables hosted by NOAA in 2021 to determine risks that climate change posed to vulnerable communities. Two University of Minnesota professors are using climate and water resource models to predict flood and drought. It’s all part of a consortium awarded $360 million in federal funds, based out of the University of Alabama.

Friends of the Refuge Headwaters Swan Watch Tuesday, November 15, 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. The bus leaves Winona, Minn., for a tour to view the fall migration and changing colors on the Mississippi River. View migrating tundra swans and other waterfowl up-close on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The trip will include a stop at a Refuge Visitor Center on Brice Prairie, Wis. Binoculars, spotting scopes and brochures will be provided. The $35 registration includes a box lunch. The deadline is November 8, or when the bus fills. Register online or contact Mary Stefanski at mary_stefanski@fws.gov or 507-494-6229

Rotary Lights November 25, 5 p.m. to January 1, 1 a.m. Normally open 5 - 10 p.m. Riverside Park, La Crosse, Wis. In addition to Santa, reindeer (through December 23), an ice rink with free skate rentals, carriage rides, s’mores and fire pits, three million lights create countless displays. There are also special events. Voluntary food and/or cash donations requested.

Holidaze Festival Saturday, December 3, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Green St. Plaza, Galena, Ill. Artisans, food vendors, live music, kids’ activities, silent auction and fireworks. Donations will support the Galena Art & Recreation Center. Free admission. 815-200-6827.

 

Links from the September-October 2022 issue

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has updated its fishing maps and maps of fishing structures.

Dale Sanders, Greybeard Adventurer

Lead Poisoning — Raptor Center

Kernza — The Land Institute

Scuds: Citizen Science Opportunities are available with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
the Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Streams program and with your local Trout Unlimited Chapter

Big River Partner Events

Save the Driftless, Mississippi Valley Conservancy Fall Fundraiser, November 4


Golden Rule ports of call

Links from the July-August 2022 issue

Contaminated Wells
Lancaster, Wis.

About a third of southwest Wisconsin wells had coliform bacteria or nitrate levels that exceeded state standards, according to the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology study, released in May. There are about 16,000 private wells in the study area of Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties. As elsewhere in the country, there’s no comprehensive system for monitoring the safety of water from private wells, which are the source of drinking water for nearly all rural residents. The study found that older, shallower wells closer to livestock and farm fields were more likely to be contaminated. The study also found that shallow topsoil and porous bedrock increased the likelihood of well contamination. Unsurprisingly, human contamination was more likely when septic systems were close to wells. Those seeking more information on private well testing in Wisconsin can contact their local extension office or county public health agent.Click here to see the study.

Black Earth PFAS
Black Earth, Wis.

Don’t eat fish from Black Earth Creek more than once a week, because trout sampled there have elevated levels of PFAS, chemicals that can increase cholesterol and cancer risks and decrease immune responses and fertility. PFAS have been used for years in nonstick cookware, firefighting foam and other products. Black Earth Creek is one of the most popular trout streams in Wisconsin. Click here to check advisories for your local Wisconsin waterway.

Modeling the River
Rock Island, Ill

The Army Corps of Engineers has finished a hydraulic model of the Upper Mississippi to help communities weigh flood risks. The St. Paul, Rock Island and St. Louis districts worked for seven years on the model, which is intended to help plan development and mitigate flood risks. The million-dollar computer model covers from St. Paul to Thebes, Ill., as well as the Illinois River from Grafton to Lockport, Ill. Click here for more information.

 

Links from the May-June 2022 issue

EVENTS

Friends of the Mississippi River

Restore Riverway Habitat Various events, Twin Cities Area

Maquoketa River Trail

Delaware County

Jones County

Jackson County

Brazen Open Kitchen and Bar

Dubuque, Iowa

Big Blue Sky
Dreamer in the Sage

Meet the band, listen to their music and check out their calendar

Mississippi Man Catches Huge Catfish

 

Links from the March-April 2022 issue

Army Corps Navigation Charts of the Mississippi River for download.


Mostly Mississippi: A Very Damp Adventure at the Library of Congress
Read the book by Harold Speakman and view all the artwork in this 1927 adventure down the river. Artwork by Speakman and his wife, Russell Lindsay Speakman.


 

Corps' Bosses Busted From 2001, eighth in a special Big River series on the Army Corps Navigation Study. A high-ranking officer in the Army Corps of Engineers falsified pivotal economic information in the Corps’ Navigation Study to get the agency a billion-dollar project to expand locks on the Mississippi River, according to Army investigators.


 

Links from the January-February 2022 issue

The Epic Battle to Break the Mississippi River Canoe Record
By Frank Bures, Outside Magazine, Nov 3, 2021

Tailwater Ice Fishing

Watch the tailwater ice fishing segment of the Tom Gruenwald Outdoor show “Take Me to the River.”


Current Events

The Julia Belle Swain is sold.

 

Wisconsin large mammal observation form

 

Accessing Mazomanie Bottoms Area in Wisconsin

 

Links from the November-December 2021 issue

City of Davenport Flood Resiliency Plan Final Concept

 


(photo by Larry A. Stone)

Bloody Run Lawsuit

The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to stop one of the largest feedlots in Iowa from being built on karst geography near Bloody Run Creek.

Bloody Run Creek in northeast Iowa is among 34 waterways designated as outstanding Iowa Waters by the state's Department of Natural Resources.

Here is a story from Iowa Public Radio. The Battle Over Bloody Run Creek

 

Buffers Keep Our Water Clean

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitors the state’s waters and displays data about every stream, lake and ditch in all 88 of Minnesota’s watersheds. You can find which watersheds are meeting standards, and compare the quality of the buffers in an area with the quality of the aquatic life there.

Minnesota watersheds

Buffer strips are not the only tool to reduce pollution and sediment. Grass waterways, conservation tillage, tree plantings and other “Best Management Practices” are also used. The MPCA tracks progress in the 88 watersheds and displays information.

Best management practices - Minnesota MPCA.

Click here to drop a raindrop anywhere on this map of the contiguous United States and watch where it ends up.

 

Finding the Trempealeau River

Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge

Perrot State Park

Trempealeau Mountain

Brady's Bluff Prairie

Pietrek County Park

Parks in Independence, Wis.

Silver Mound, archaeological and geological site, a gathering place for Native Americans in pre-historic Wisconsin.

 

Links from the September-October 2021 issue

Click here to drop a raindrop anywhere on this map of the contiguous United States and watch where it ends up.


Illinois is seeking to establish its first enforceable groundwater standards for PFAS. If the draft language goes into effect, the standard for some PFAS would be set at two parts per trillion, the most rigorous level in the country. Community testing results are available on a state-run website. (Scroll to bottom.)


The Friends of the Mississippi River is wrapping up its four-year “Write to the River” project. You can read the online publications at the Friends website.


Midmorning on a cool July day, a pair of unseen whooping cranes sang out in unison, which only pair-bonded cranes do. Like other bird calls, different cranes sing it differently, but this loud, trumpeting, high-low duet is impossible to forget and can project for up to two kilometers. whooping cranes on International Crane Foundation website.)


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has an online bicycle map.

 

Links from the July-August 2021 issue

Wisconsin Online Outdoor Business Directory

Ambient sounds on a Driftless habitat restoration project, “Ears in the Driftless

 

Links from the May-June 2021 issue

Bison Bridge

Chad Pregracke wants to turn the Interstate 80 bridge at Le Claire, Iowa, into a “Bison Bridge:” a pedestrian crossing, the longest manmade wildlife crossing in the world and eventually a national park. About 100 acres of land adjoining the bridge could help support a small herd of bison, supporters say.

Pesky Plants Trackers

Minnesota is seeking volunteers to spot pesky plants, specifically Japanese knotweed and wild parsnip. Volunteers can study a self-paced course that takes about four hours and will prepare them to report any pesky plants near them.

Volunteer Rain Observers

If you’d like to help scientists understand precipitation, consider joining CoCoRaHS (the Collaborative Community Rain, Hail & Snow network). The National Weather Service, hydrologists, emergency managers and others use the network’s data to measure trends and make forecasts. Volunteers are asked to complete training and report precipitation, or the lack thereof, at the same time each day, using a standard four-inch rain gauge. Observers are especially needed in some rural areas, such as Buffalo and Richland counties in Wisconsin and Jackson County, Iowa.

Fundraising for Water Level Gauges

Fundraising is ongoing for the gauges that monitor water levels and warn residents of flooding downstream on the flood-prone Kickapoo River. The Monroe County (Wis.) Climate Change Task Force is about a third of its way toward its $60,000 goal to provide monitoring stations on the upper reaches of the Little La Crosse and Kickapoo rivers. They also hope to upgrade monitoring at the Norwalk Dam. Other donations also contribute to the maintenance of National Weather Service gauges at Ontario, LaFarge and Readstown. LaCrosse Hydrology Monitor

Help in planting pollinator gardens

A step-by-step guide to planting a pollinator garden from the Fish & Wildlife Service.

A list of nectar plants best suited for your region of the United States from The National Wildlife Federation.

Birdsong ID

Are you looking for a quick tool to identify common Midwest birds by song and appearance? The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an interactive online illustration of 24 birds by Bill Reynolds. Click on the bird to hear its song, supplied by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Rough Fish

Rough fish may disappear from Minnesota waters, not because they get removed but because they get redefined. The 2021 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet includes a pitch touting the value of rough fish. The pitch in the beginning of the booklet notes the ecological roles that these fish play, and says “Killing and dumping rough fish is considered wanton waste (needless killing) and is illegal. Only kill a rough fish if you plan to use it.”

 

Links from the March-April 2021 issue

River Cam Philanthropist — You can watch the Mississippi from the Sawmill Museum in Clinton, Iowa, whenever you want, thanks to the generosity of a Fort Wayne man who has now sponsored webcams at three Upper Mississippi River museums. Craig Herold, formerly of Winona, Minn., is donating the webcams in memory of relatives, museum director Matthew Parbst told the Clinton Herald (1-5-21). Herold-funded webcams also watch over the river at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, and the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minn.

 

Dirty Songs? Lewiston, Minn. — Austin, Minn., singer-songwriter Bret Hesla and the band Six Feet Deep have recorded two songs commissioned by the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) to help farmers tune in to soil health. Hesla immersed himself in the subject at farms operated by LSP members in Austin and Goodhue, Minn. “Got Cover Crops” and “Back to Soil” have accompanying videos online. Winona’s Kobi Dansingburg produced and edited the videos. There is no charge for public use of the music or videos.

 

RV Explosion St. Croix, Minn. — Sales of recreational vehicles for camping took off in the pandemic, and the industry expects sharp growth to continue in 2021 — but where will all those RVs find a camping place?

At least one Minnesota campground is adding more RV spaces. Veterans Campground on Big Marine Lake is acquiring 2.4 acres from Washington County’s Big Marine Park Reserve to get more RV camping space for military veterans.

The 30 additional RV spaces would relieve a three-year wait for the current 156 spaces. Veterans Campground is 12 miles north of Stillwater, Minn., and six miles west of Marine on St. Croix.

Once known as Disabled Veterans Rest Camp, the 69-acre Veterans Campground is run by a nonprofit for veterans and their families. The camp dates to 1926, when it was donated for World War I soldiers who lived with “shell-shock,” now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. The campground drew 35,000 visitors in 2019.

After a two-month pandemic shutdown in early 2020, RV manufacturers hustled as sales jumped six percent over 2019. This year the industry expects a stunning 17 percent rise, to more than 500,000 units.

Travelers craving a safe vacation may have trouble finding an RV camping space. Reserve early, urges Monika Geraci of the Recreational Vehicles Industry Association. Camping numbers rose in Wisconsin in 2020. Bookings for 2021 are up again, according to Craig Trost of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Wisconsin takes reservations up to 11 months in advance.

“We do remind RV campers that our state parks do not have full water and sewer hookups, so plan ahead!” Trost cautioned.

Wisconsin RV campgrounds with electric hookups include Interstate, Willow River, Perrot, Merrick, Wyalusing and Nelson Dewey state parks and Governor Knowles State Forest.

If locked out of early reservations, keep an eye out for “last-minute cancellations,” Trost advised. Wisconsin’s campground finder is at TravelWisconsin.com. Minnesota’s is at ExploreMinnesota.com. Both Iowa and Illinois use ReserveAmerica.com.

 

Bumble Bee Spring — A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

To learn more about native bees and native plants, check out the beautiful and very complete book, "Bees — An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide," by Heather Holm, published by Pollinator Press, 2017. Also see https://www.pollinatorsnativeplants.com

 

Growing the Right Plant in the Right Place — Prairie Moon Nursery

 

Links from the January-February 2021 issue

Take a virtual trip on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

 

Follow the attempt to reel in the state fish in every state. FishAllFifty

 

Watch Shane Westen pedal down the river in a Hobie Outback Kayak.

 

Keep up on Mississippi source-to-sea paddlers with the Facebook group Mississippi River Paddlers.

 

Links from the November-December 2020 issue

Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website

The WDNR is seeking volunteers for its self-service Adopt-a-Kiosk program for CWD testing.

———

Here's more info on River Actions's River Webinar series:
2020 Upper Mississippi River Webinar Series

Archaeologist Ernie Boszhardt will lead us on a virtual introduction to beautiful Little Bluff in Trempealeau, Wis. Sponsored by Mississippi Valley Conservancy. Discover Little Bluff

Check out Lake Pepin Alliance's membership drive.

 

Links from the September-October 2020 issue

River Action will forego its annual in-person Upper Mississippi River Conference this year, opting instead for three online webinars. Webinars will cost $10 per session or $25 for all three.

The Conservation Grazing Map helps farmers and ranchers find public lands that are available for grazing livestock. The tool is a joint effort by the MDA, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

 

•Like the overlook story in this issue? See overlook stories that we have published in the past. See all the overlooks on our Travel Map

Introduction to Overlooks 2009

Map and description of overlooks (pdf) September 2009

Lookout ! A Sampling of River Views 1993

Lookout map

Looking Down on the River—What is the highest overlook on the river? By Duke Addicks

Duke's calculations

Links from the July-August 2020 issue

Mississippi River area webcams

Headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park. (Minnesota DNR)

National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minn.

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa

St Louis Arch viewed from Illinois. (Camera installed by the local government.)

The eagle trio near L&D 13, Fulton, Ill. (Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge)

Mississippi River Flyway Cam, Brice Prairie, Wis. (Raptor Resource Center)

Watch the river at St. Paul. (City of St. Paul)

Driftless Area Education Center at Lansing, Iowa

Dubuque County Courthouse Peregrine Falcons

 

Fishing information

Fishing information is available at “Learn to fish” on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

Explore fish in streams and climate data with FishVis by the USGS.

 

Links from past issues:

Paddler Sampling:

LouAnn Harris stand-up paddle— What I Learned; The Mullet

Jay Kangler - Escape with Jay videos

Max Berthou and Mark Pozlep link to Waterways Journal

Maya Dizak and Michael McGuire and The Big Wet Trip on Instagram

Dan Faust - Glory Days

Mississippi River Paddlers Facebook Group

 


From Big River

Download complete issues from 2006 and 2007 (PDFs)

Back Issues - Highlights and ordering information

Big River Online Travel Map

Stories from past issues of Big River

 

Links to more information from stories in Big River

January-February 2018

November-December 2017

September-October 2017

July-August 2017

May-June 2017

March-April 2017

January-February 2017


Links to Mississippi River Resources


Links from Reggie's Canoecopia presentation

Big River Source-to-Sea paddler page - accounts, stories and resources

Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Refuge

Corps of Engineers Upper Miss Navigation Charts

Mississippi River Paddlers (Facebook group)

Floatzilla(River Action, Quad Cities)

The Great River Rumble


 

Minnesota DNR Eagle Cam

Upper Mississippi River Restoration - Environmental Management Program (UMRR-EMP)

Mississippi River Organizations

Mississippi River Resources

Big River Travel Map

Down the Mississippi: People taking all kinds of trips down the river

Weather on the Upper Mississippi

Water levels on the Upper Miss.

90-Day Journey of a Raindrop on the Mississippi River by Gayle Harper. Blog, Surrendering to Serendipity

Download complete issues from 2006 and 2007

More Stories Published in past issues of Big River

Waiting for the Julia Belle Swain (pdf)
By John Gabbert The hard, gritty, expensive work of rescuing one of the finest steam sternwheeler packet boats ever built is nearly finished. Jan-Feb 2017

Effigy Mounds of the Wisconsin River Valley
By Sara Millhouse September-October 2016

Coldwater Cave May-June 2016
By Capt. Ted Peck

Nighthawk Twilight
By Molly McGuire July-Aug 2015

Carp Poetry Winners - July-Aug 2015

12 Great Rivertown Gardens (pdf) - May-June 2015

Where's the Carp? Commercial fishermen have noticed an overall decline in the number of common carp - May-June 2015

Sex Life of Floodplain Trees March-April 2015

Carp Catch 22 - where can you buy wild-caught smoked carp, and why isn't it at your local grocer's? (pdf) March-April 2015

When Big Mama Ruled the Rivers - the Sprague Jan-Feb 2015

River Pilgrims Nov-Dec 2014

Outdoor Dreams Come True - North America Squirrel Association Nov-Dec 2014

Mapping Time and the River (PDF) by Ryan Johnson March-April 2014

The Living Caves of Kickapoo Winters Jan-Feb 2014

Ike Hasting's and his Picket Hastings Jan-Feb 2014

CD Review: Can You Canoe? By the OkeeDokee Brothers
Reviewed by Naomi Rath

Leo and Marilyn Smith: River Dreams in Wood (pdf)
March-April 2012

Sand Dollars — Mining Frac Sand in the River Valley (pdf
July-Aug 2011

Summer of Weeds Nov-Dec 2010

Boykin Spaniels and Box Turtles July-Aug 2010

The Almost-Built Canal: Linking Lake Superior to the Mississippi  (pdf)
March-April 2010

Flood Run also PDF
March-April 2010

The Day WWII Came to Lake Pepin
Nov-Dec 2007

Iceboating on the Mississippi
Jan-Feb 2007

Look down on the river
Overlooks, lookouts, precipices and blufftop peaks

An Otter Kind of Critter

River Book Reviews

Bridges over the Mississippi

Hand-Carved Decoys (pdf)

More Stories from Big River Magazine