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
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
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
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