Big River Magazine
Mississippi River stories and news

March-April 2013

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From March-April 2013 Big River

Okee Dokee Grammee!

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ Mississippi River inspired CD “Can You Canoe?” has won tthe Best Children’s Album Grammy Award.

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander, who are not actually brothers but have been best friends since childhood, paddled from Lake Itasca to St. Louis to gather inspiration and write the songs. (See the review in Big River, July-August 2012.) Their songs — like “Rosita the Skeeta” and “Thousand Star Hotel” — are so broadly clever and humorous that adults will enjoy them too. The “Can You Canoe?” package includes a CD as well as a DVD of music videos and other features.

The Minneapolis-based duo plans to create a series of other “adventure” CDs.

Unendangered Species

What do bald eagles have in common with brown pelicans, American alligators, Kirtland’s warblers and black-footed ferrets? All these species have recovered from the brink of extinction under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the act, which was signed into law on December 28, 1973. To celebrate, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is launching a special website and sponsoring free family educational activities throughout the year. To find out more, check out the Endangered Species Program page on Facebook.

Driftless, the Movie

La Crosse, Wis. — Want to bankroll a movie, even though you have a small bankroll? Makers of a film called “Mysteries of the Driftless” have launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise the balance of funds needed for post-production and distribution costs. They are asking people to visit a website and get involved.

The film will feature secret places and unique landscapes of the blufflands region of the Upper Mississippi and its tributaries. It’s about a team of explorers and scientists who do things a lot of us have either done or would love to do — kayak down steep valleys, buzz the treetops in an open-cockpit plane and climb rocky bluffs.

The Mississippi Valley Conservancy and Untamed Science have combined forces on the movie, which aims to get more young people engaged with outdoor activities and issues in the Driftless Area.

Instill a Furrowed Vigor

A group called the Mountain Folk Adventure is planning a Mississippi River trip from the headwaters to the Gulf, starting May 5. They invite anyone and everyone to a two-month journey to raise money for this year’s chosen charity, the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.

All boats must be human-powered, either conventional or home-made. After they launch at Lake Itasca, teams will be on their own, checking in at two checkpoints along the way.

The Mountain Folk’s goals are to “instill a furrowed vigor in the lives of those drudging through lifelessness with an intense exposure to the great outdoors; transfuse inept cowardice with weather-beaten fearlessness through adventure; make boatloads o’ cash money for charities all over the world,” according to its website.

Each team must raise $1,000 for charity and pay a $650 per person entry fee (for parties, t-shirts, camping, park fees, etc.), along with $400 per boat, a fee that will be returned if the boat makes it to a checkpoint or to New Orleans.

The group plans to follow up this year’s adventure with others — jalopy rallies, horseback trips and derbies.

“These adventures are not for the faint of heart and come with a disclaimer in capital letters. There will be plenty of times when people aren’t sure where they are — and plenty of times that they don’t care. If nothing goes wrong, then everything has gone wrong,” said Mississippi River Run Chief Zach Robinson.

Finding Gold

Wabasha, Minn. — On January 15, more than 150 people climbed into their cars, vans and four-wheel-drive trucks to go looking for golden eagles in southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin, northeast Iowa and northern Illinois. By the end of the day they’d identified and counted about 140 golden eagles in 56 specific areas.

The National Eagle Center of Wabasha has sponsored the Golden Eagle Survey for nine years, to find out more about the eagles’ habits and habitats. Golden eagles hunt small rodents and stay in the farmed valleys and forested bluffs away from the river, while bald eagles eat fish and frequently roost on or near the river. Golden eagles breed in northern Canada. The Eagle Center has discovered that a number of the birds migrate to the area every winter and are not irregular visitors, as was previously believed.

The 2013 Golden Eagle Survey also counted more than 500 bald eagles, 300 red-tailed hawks, 69 kestrels and two great horned owls that day.

To learn more, visit the Eagle Center’s website and check out the migration pathways of five golden eagles fitted with GPS-linked satellite transmitters.



To read more Mississippi River news and stories, order this issue or find Big River at one of these retail outlets.

Go to Previous River News (Nov-Dec 2012)

Go to Previous River News (Sept-Oct 2012)

Go to Previous River News (July-August 2012)

Go to Previous River News (May-June 2012)

Go to Previous River News (March-April 2012)

Go to Previous River News (January-February 2012)