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Links from the November-December 2022 issue
Carp Herpes in Storm Lake
Climate Resilience La Crosse, Wis.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Kernza — The Land Institute
Big River Partner Events
Golden Rule ports of call
Links from the July-August 2022 issueContaminated Wells
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
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
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.
Friends of the Mississippi River
Maquoketa River Trail
Big Blue Sky
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
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
Tailwater Ice Fishing
Watch the tailwater ice fishing segment of the Tom Gruenwald Outdoor show “Take Me to the River.”
Links from the November-December 2021 issue
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.
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.
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
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
Ambient sounds on a Driftless habitat restoration project, “Ears in the Driftless”
Links from the May-June 2021 issue
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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:
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
Links from the July-August 2020 issue
Mississippi River area webcams
Headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park. (Minnesota DNR)
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)
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:
Jay Kangler - Escape with Jay videos
Max Berthou and Mark Pozlep link to Waterways Journal
Dan Faust - Glory Days
From Big River
Links to more information from stories in Big River
Links from Reggie's Canoecopia presentation
Down the Mississippi: People taking all kinds of trips down the river
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