riparian rap

Rally ho! River Rally on the Mississippi 2013

JM, Jim and Nathan, LRRD fabricators/prototypers, at River Rally 2013.

Nathan, Jim, JM and I spent last weekend exhibiting our Em2 at the River Network‘s annual River Rally.

We met people from all over the country who are dedicated to river conservation — a pretty regular thing in this business.  But this meeting, held in downtown St. Louis on the edge of the Mississippi River, was special for us.

All four of us grew up in Missouri or Illinois, in the Mississippi watershed.  In Carbondale, Ill., LRRD’s hometown, we can drive a half hour and dip our toes into the Mississippi.

So we were thrilled to meet so many people who are working to protect the river in our own back yard, like the crew from Living Lands & Waters, who spend most of their days on a barge traveling the Mississippi, picking up trash and planting trees.  (Nathan will attend one of their environmental educator workshops next month.)

A main event on Monday included the mayors of St. Louis, Grafton, Ill., and Wickliff, Ky. — all nearby towns to Carbondale — who gathered  at River Rally for a panel discussion about the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, a cooperative among mayors all along the river.  The mayors aim to approach river policy as a group, rather than as individual cities and towns (read an article from the Quad City Times about the initiative here).

During the discussion, the three mayors talked about the trouble with building and farming in floodplains (Wickliff is just a few miles away from Cairo, Ill., which we blogged about extensively during the big spring flood of 2011), and controlling Asian Carp, an invasive species that has infested the Mississippi (watch a short video about Asian Carp here).

These are issues the folks at River Rally have been talking about since River Network began 25 years ago (yep, it’s a milestone year for them), and will continue to talk about in the years to come.

Nathan talks with a visitor at River Rally 2013 in St. Louis