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About the Mississippi

The Mississippi River is by any account one of the great rivers of the world.  Its watershed drains all or part of 31 states, accounting for nearly 40% of the continental United States land area.  The river forms a spine of American history and culture, and is also the heart of some of the continent’s most important natural areas and migration routes.  The river is also central to the United States’ inland waterways system; an estimated 60% of the country’s agricultural exports move out of the Port of South Louisiana at the river’s mouth. For River Life, this great river and the University of Minnesota’s position on it mobilizes our commitment to research, to collaborate, and to respect the social and ecological systems of this place. 

Recreational Resources

The University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus is in a unique location: on the banks of one of the world's great rivers, which has been the site of a great deal of activity and program development over the past few decades.  Visit River Life's own Recreational Resources page for ideas for recreational opportunities, ways to get involved with caring for the river and special places along the corridor, and plenty of interesting places to go!

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

The Mississippi River corridor in the Twin Cities has been designated the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park System.  Park staff, working cooperatively with dozens of agencies and organizations, have developed a great deal of scientific and historical information, maps of things to see and do, and other information about the "river at your doorstep." 

Bdote Memory Map

From time immemorial, the lands along the Mississippi in the Twin Cities, including the campus and neighborhoods around it, have been the home of the Dakota people.  Despite centuries of conflict and catastrophe, Dakota people and other American Indian groups are still very much present in this region.  Learn more, and hear the voices of Dakota people articulating their varied relationships to this place at the Bdote Memory Map web site.

St. Anthony Falls Heritage Zone

Located practically within sight of the Minneapolis campus, the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Zone is a historic district in the heart of Minneapolis that was the home to the largest concentration of flour mills in the world.  Here is where global companies such as Pillsbury and General Mills got their start in the 1870s. Learn more, and see a number of technical reports on the district's history and attractions at the web site of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board.

America's Watershed Initiative

The Mississippi River that runs through the campus is, of course, part of a major watershed/water system that encompasses much of the continental United States. Stretching from New York State and Pennsylvania in the east all the way to Wyoming in the west, and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the watershed is truly the "heart of the continent." Since 2010 the America's Watershed Initiative has sought to bring people together across this vast expanse to achieve a more collaborative long term future for the entire basin. The "watershed report card," and other resources, are available at the Initiative's web site.

Mississippi River Network and 1Mississippi

The Mississippi River Network and its 1Mississippi campaign represent another effort to gather people across great distances to care for the Mississippi River and its resources.  "River Citizens" agree to take action to protect the river (you can sign up at the web site) and there are a number of ways to keep up to date on important policy efforts.