Guest post by Doug Blodgett
Conservation Director for the Illinois River Program
Doug oversees site-based conservation for the Illinois River, often working with local, state and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to restore and conserve the biological diversity of the large-floodplain river ecosystem. He is also part of the Conservancy’s Upper Mississippi River Program and the Great Rivers Partnership.
August 2009 — During this hot weather, the birds aren’t the only ones stopping by Emiquon. In the past month two notable groups have toured our preserve: the Mississippi River Commission and a group of Chinese scientists involved in The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership.
The Mississippi River Commission, which was established in 1879 to control flooding, improve navigation and preserve and restore natural resources along the Mississippi River, stopped at Emiquon as part of its annual low water inspection. We spent a whole day with the Commission, looking at existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers structures and making plans for a joint aquatic ecosystem restoration project at Emiquon. This was the first time the Commission had ever toured the Illinois River, and we hope there will be many more visits!
In another first, we also hosted a delegation of scientists from the Yangtze River as part of a scientific exchange started when some Mississippi River scientists visited China last year. The Chinese scientists were excited to talk about our restoration tools, such as computer simulation modeling that helps us make decisions about levee use, our long-term data collection, and our resource monitoring equipment. It was also interesting to learn about the different challenges facing our programs—for example, while we Mississippi River scientists are worried about the detrimental effects of invasive Asian carps, the Yangtze River scientists are worried about running out of them!
There are so many ideas that can be improved and exchanged through our collaboration with the Chinese scientists, and we expect our relationship to grow tighter with the help of the Great Rivers Partnership. Likewise, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help our restoration succeed, because—like most other important conservation issues—we can’t do it alone.