River conference will look at flooding, recreation, dredging

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Davenport fire fighters spray a sidewalk in LeClaire Park on July 2 after 100 days of Mississippi River flooding left behind several inches of mud.

Posted October 1, 2019

After record flooding on the Mississippi River this spring, it is fitting that workshops discussing future flooding — and long-term drought — are on the agenda for the Upper Mississippi River Conference coming to Moline on Oct. 23-24.

The 12th annual conference sponsored by River Action Inc. will be at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center, featuring speakers, workshops and two field trips. River Action is a nonprofit Davenport-based organization seeking to boost the environmental, economic, and cultural vitality of the Mississippi River and its riverfront in the Quad-City.

Flooding this spring was attributed, at least in part, to a changing climate that is expected to cause increasingly violent storms and flooding as well as droughts, because weather extremes will become the norm.

But conference speakers will have lots of other things to talk about, too, including Illinois' nutrient loss reduction strategy (reducing farm runoff), recreation and tourism on the river and the beneficial use of dredging and dredge materials.

About 200 stakeholders representing agriculture, manufacturing, energy, navigation, tourism, the environment and flood control are expected to attend.

Presentations will follow two tracks, sustaining/improving the river and utilizing the river.

Building on the action plan developed at the 2016 conference that focused on "raising the grade" of the river, this year's meeting will directly address one of the action items — improving opportunities for recreation in the Upper Mississippi River Basin and how to enable river towns to create and offer river amenities.

Major speakers are John Anfinson, of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area of the National Park Service; Colin Wellenkamp, of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative; Olivia Dorothy, of American Rivers; and Loren Wobig, of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Water Management.

One of the field trips will be a Mississippi River eco-cruise aboard the Blue Heron and the other will be a look at river habitat rehabilitation and enhancement projects and dredge reuse projects.

The Mississippi River covers all or part of 31 states in the nation.

Source: qctimes.com