"This new field station will be a world class facility that provides a way for river managers from around the world to share knowledge and experience gained working on large, complex river systems."
Michael Reuter, The Nature Conservancy's Central U.S. Regional Director of Conservation Programs
The Nature Conservancy and Caterpillar Inc. are engaged in discussions with the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC), Lewis and Clark Community College and the University of Illinois to create a partnership that will provide a long-term, institutional home for the goals and concepts now embodied in the virtual Great Rivers Center for Conservation and Learning. The new Center would be hosted in a new field station of global prominence that will be located at the confluence of the Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri rivers near St. Louis.
With funding from Caterpillar Inc., through its Foundation, the Conservancy developed the Great Rivers Center in 2005 to foster greater and faster communication and collaboration among those working to conserve and manage great rivers around the world.
Through the Center, scientists working at the Great Rivers Partnership's three main sites — the Mississippi, Paraguay-Paraná and Yangtze rivers — and in other river basins have participated in conferences, workshops and exchanges to share their knowledge and experiences related to the conservation, restoration and management of great river systems.
Exchanges between river managers working on the Mississippi River and the Magdalena in Colombia related to navigation infrastructure and sediment management, the Yangtze in China related to large river monitoring and the Zambezi in Africa related to ecoregional planning are examples of information exchanges facilitated by the Great Rivers Center.
When completed, the Confluence Field Station on the Melvin Price Locks and Dam esplanade will be dedicated to the protection of great rivers through research, education and the sharing of knowledge and experience about these rivers. It will provide facilities for staff conducting research and education programs focused on great rivers, their watersheds and floodplains and the interaction between these rivers and their human, plant and animal communities.
The new, expanded Great Rivers Center would initially focus on building a network of experts on the Mississippi from its headwaters to the Gulf to aggregate and synthesize what we know about this system and develop an action agenda related to improving policies, implementing projects and filling knowledge gaps. The Center would seek to link itself to institutions around the world with similar goals for their great river systems.
"This new field station will be a world class facility that provides a way for river managers from around the world to share knowledge and experience gained working on large, complex river systems," said Michael Reuter, the Conservancy's Central U.S. regional director of conservation programs. "By connecting these experts to the Great Rivers Center, we would hope to become an 'expert voice' for the Mississippi River and, through strategic partnerships, seek to influence the way rivers are managed to achieve sustainability around the world."
Groundbreaking for the new field station is expected to take place in April 2009. Stay tuned to this Web site for more details in the coming months.