La Crosse Set To Host International River Science Symposium

Upper Mississippi Restoration Seen As A Model For Other Rivers

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Biologists, geologists, and historians from all over the world will gather in La Crosse next week to learn about the differences and similarities facing river systems globally.

Organizers of the Symposium of the International Society for River Science say the Upper Mississippi River will be highlighted at the event as a model for restoration. For about three decades, scientists and engineers have been restoring the Upper Mississippi’s ecosystem, which was greatly impacted by the lock and dam system. They’ve built islands and recreated backwater channels.

The Nature Conservancy’s Gretchen Benjamin called the work state of the art, and said she’s looking forward to sharing the restoration efforts at the symposium. Benjamin said the work on the Upper Mississippi could be recreated in other river systems, both globally and closer to home, especially on the Lower Mississippi River.

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“There’s a thousand miles of river down there that really don’t have any sort of restoration program, any restoration goals,” she said. “So we’re working on that lower river to take everything we’ve learned from the upper river and create one big river, a whole system of restoration.”

The fourth biennial symposium kicks off in La Crosse on Sunday.