upper Mississippi River near Iowa.
Barges travel along the upper Mississippi River near Iowa. © Robert J. Hurt

Newsroom | The Nature Conservancy

Conservation Group Calls for More Funding for Mississippi River Program

St. Louis, MO

The Nature Conservancy today called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund construction of the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), a federal effort to modernize locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River system while improving the health of the river’s ecosystems.

The statement comes after U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue held a town hall in the St. Louis area today to discuss the importance of inland waterways like the Mississippi River to American agriculture.

“The health and economic future of the upper Mississippi River is directly tied to the future of its ecosystems,” said Michael Reuter, Midwest division director for The Nature Conservancy. “The Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program is a comprehensive, forward-thinking strategy that marries the modernization of navigation through the upper Mississippi River system—which is a critical corridor for transporting crops and other agriculture products—with restoration of the river’s natural wetlands, floodplains and wildlife habitats.

“While the framework is in place, the funding needed to take on these challenges is not. With ecosystem degradation along the river outpacing restoration efforts, now is the time for the Army Corps to move forward with NESP. Greater investment in ecosystem restoration and infrastructure upgrades will improve the quality of life for the many local communities that depend on the river’s $54.8 billion tourism and recreation economy. These are wins that must go hand in hand, and wins the Army Corps should deliver.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.