The Mighty Mississippi

Illinois has a longer border with the Mississippi River than any other state. The Mississippi is one of the longest rivers in the world, and is an essential part of our national heritage. The Upper Mississippi River flows about 1,300 miles from its source to the confluence with the Ohio River at the southern tip of Illinois. The Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB) encompasses 189,000 square miles within portions of 5 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Over 30 million people live within the UMRB, the vast majority in urban areas.

More than 60% of the land area within the basin is cropland, the majority growing corn and soybeans.

The Problem: Man-made Navigation and Flood Control Projects

Our big rivers have suffered over a century of degradation due to human-caused environmental impacts. Much of this degradation is a result of the proliferation of river navigation infrastructure (e.g., locks and dams), extensive leveeing, and conversion of floodplain habitats to row-crop agriculture.

The Solution: Restoring the Natural State of Big Rivers

Prairie Rivers Network seeks to address these problems by opposing destructive navigation projects and policies, while promoting river and floodplain restoration. To accomplish our goals, we partner with the Nicollet Island Coalition, a group of organizations that works to protect and restore the Upper Mississippi River by advocating for reforms to the navigation system.

For more information on the Nicollet Island Coalition, please visit:

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