Big River Links from
May-June 2006

May-June 2006
Order this back issue

Go Time Traveling -- Visit the 1800s This Summer
Ten historic sites on the river await your exploration.

contact information

Mississippi Mudpuppies
These nocturnal creatures of the river bottom are seldom seen.
Navigating the Mississippi in Art
Muscatine Art Center hosts a show of paintings featuring canoes, keelboats, towboats and other river subjects.
Restaurant Review
The Norton's
Dine off the beaten path in Bay City, Wis.
Book Review
Tales of a River Rat
Know Your River
The Upper Mississippi is a river of pools.

Contact Information for 1800s Historical Sites featured in Big River

Elk River, Minn.
(763) 441-6896

more info
Mendota, Minn.
(651) 452-1596

Sr. Paul, Minn.
(612) 726-1171

Hastings, Minn.
(651) 437-7055

Homer, Minn.
(507) 452-7575 or (507) 454-2723.

Pepin, Wis.
(800) 442-3011

La Crosse, Wis.
(608) 782-1980

more info
Potosi, Wis.
(608) 763-2121

St. Feriole Island, Prairie du Chien, Wis.
(608) 326-2721

more info
Cassville, Wis.
(608) 725-5210

2241 Lincoln Ave., Dubuque, Iowa
(563) 557-9545

Arsenal Island, Rock Island, Ill.
(309) 786-7336; (563) 388-9657 Off-season

Links and River News excerpts from May-June 2006

River Dancing

Itasca to Louisiana On June 24, 2006, head out to the One River Mississippi site nearest you for a one-of-a-kind, never-been-done-before arts event. It's a simultaneous, seven-site interpretive dance along the banks of the Mississippi.

One River Mississippi aims to draw attention to the connection between people and ecosystems up and down the river, and to "bring joy and attention to the health of the Mississippi," said director Marylee Hardenbergh.

Dancers at Lake Itasca, Minneapolis, the Quad Cities, St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish will dance to the same music at the same time on "found stages" that showcase the river. At various sites, dancers will dance on boats, barges, bridges and buildings on both sides of the river. Local choreographers and dancers will plan and perform the dances. All seven communities will share a common sound system.

The performance will begin at 7:12 p.m., when participants in Itasca call out "One Mississippi!" Then Minneapolis participants will call out "Two Mississippi!" and so on down the river. All seven audiences will create a chord together, with Itasca singing one note, Minneapolis adding the next note, and so on until all seven notes sound together. That's when the dancing begins.

Hardenbergh has 25 years of experience creating large outdoor performances. She has produced the Solstice River dance celebration on the Stone Arch Bridge across the Mississippi in Minneapolis for nine years.

Martian Steamboats?

Paris Photographs of the Libya Montes region of Mars, released in late March by the European Space Agency (ESA), show a 400 km (248 mile)-long valley that was carved into the surface about 3,500 million years ago, when the planet was warm and wet. The valley appears to be a broad river valley that contains a deeper interior valley. Scientists estimate that the same amount of water probably flowed out of the region as currently flows out of the "middle reaches" of the Mississippi River, according to the ESA website.

The images were taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board the ESA’s Mars Express spaceship, launched in June 2003. Mars Express is scanning for signs of water. It is also mapping the entire surface of the planet at 10 meters per pixel and some areas in even higher resolution -- two meters per pixel. Some images are viewable on the ESA website.

More Refined

St. Paul Flint Hills Resources, a refining and chemicals company owned by Koch Industries Inc., wants to expand its Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, Minn., to meet increased market demand. The refinery is already the largest in any state without oil wells. The current maximum capacity of 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day would be increased to 150,000 barrels per day.

An Environmental Assessment Worksheet was released at the end of March. A public comment period was scheduled to end in late April, after which the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will decide whether a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement is needed.

The company is also proposing to build a second oil pipeline across Minnesota, to bring more crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.

Flint Hills has a mixed environmental record at Pine Bend. In 2000 it was fined $6 million for negligently discharging oil and wastewater from the refinery into a wetland next to the Mississippi River. State and federal agencies have fined it a total of $19 million for pollution-related fines since 1998. In response to those fines, the company set up a partnership with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) to reduce its waste, air and water emissions by half in five years. So far, it has exceeded its goal.

Senators' Scorecards

Washington, D.C. In its annual National Environmental Scorecard, the nonprofit League of Conservation Voters (LCV) ranks U.S. senators and representatives on their voting records on environmental issues. For the 2005 session the LCV gave two senators from Illinois and one from Iowa the highest score of all senators in states bordering the Upper Mississippi. Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) scored 95 out of 100 points.

Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) both scored 90; Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) scored 75; Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) scored 35; and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) scored just 10.

Senators from downriver states scored lower, except for Arkansas, 60 and 65 points. The other scores were: Missouri, 0 and 15; Kentucky, 0 and 0; Tennessee, 5 and 15; Mississippi, 0 and 0; and Louisiana, 10 and 50.

For scorecards of U.S. representatives, see the LCV website.

Birding Fests

Lake City, Minn., and Onalaska, Wis. Two Mississippi River birding festivals are set to coincide with the spring bird migration in May.

The annual Great River Birding and Nature Festival will take place on the weekend of May 12, 13 and 14 in many towns on both sides of the river, from Bay City, Wis., to Winona, Minn. Participants will have all kinds of opportunities to get out into the bluffs, fields and backwaters to see birds. Some of the options: take a guided walking tour up Mossy Hollow; ride a motorboat down Indian Slough; trek out to author/naturalist Kenny Salwey's cabin; or ride a mini-train through Tiffany Bottoms. A variety of speakers and performances are planned, along with "early bird" breakfasts and an auction.

A week later and a few miles downriver, the 2006 Mississippi Flyway Birding Festival on May 19, 20 and 21 will be headquartered at the OmniCenter in Onalaska, Wis. Participants can get out to where the birds are by foot, canoe, kayak or motorboat with local guides. There's a steamboat cruise on the river, a mini-train ride through Tiffany Bottoms, a trip to Wyalusing State Park in Prairie du Chien and talks on topics ranging from owls and birdfeeders to the Jocotoco Birdathon in Ecuador. The theme this year is Landscaping for Birds and Wildlife.

Read more Mississippi River news in Big River. Subscribe today!

Diamond on the River

La Crosse, Wis. Pulitzer-prize winning author and researcher Jared Diamond will be the keynote speaker at the International Conference on Rivers in La Crosse, on June 25 to 28, 2006. Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California-Los Angeles, is the author of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and Guns, Germs and Steel, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

Prominent environmental historian Donald Worster, of the University of Kansas, is also scheduled to speak.

The conference will showcase multidisciplinary perspectives on the river, including literature and arts about rivers, rivers in mythology and religion, restoration of historical riverfronts, human influences on river basins, contemporary water resource use, and other topics. It is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, and the Smithsonian Institution.

The first International Conference on Rivers was held in 2002 in Dubna, Russia, which is on the Volga River. The second was at Assiut University, Egypt, on the Nile River in 2003.

Interested? You can subscribe to Big River
- or -
Pick up Big River at a bookstore or local newsstand- locations