Mississippi Feature

The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

The Mississippi is one of the world's great rivers and part of one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet. It is a critical migration corridor for millions of birds and is essential to the ecological health of the North American continent. The river environment is home to an incredible array of fish, wildlife, and plants.

In turn, millions of people use and enjoy these diverse resources. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area was established as part of the National Park Service system in 1988 due to its "national significance." This 72 mile stretch of river in Minnesota is characterized by a surprising diversity.

What makes this river significant? Just a quick look at some of the statistics for the Mississippi River watershed starts to show why this river is so important. It touches 31 states of the lower 48, and drains 41% of the continental United States. It is the third longest river system in the world. These are impressive, but apart from providing drainage, why the national significance?

The Mississippi River also provides 23% of the nation's public surface water supplies. Without this river, a whole lot of people would go thirsty. They would also be hungry, since so many farms depend on the Mississippi River to irrigate the crops. The land would not be anywhere near as fertile as it is if it were not in the floodplain of the Mighty Mississippi.

Recreation, transportation, agriculture, ecological complexity, Native American religious and spiritual importance-the Mississippi River has it all!

For more information, check out:

Check out other Mississippi Feature Stories

Center for Global Environmental Education
Hamline University Graduate School of Education
1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104-1284
Phone: 651-523-2480 Fax: 651-523-2987
© 2001 CGEE. All Rights Reserved.