Victory for Mississippi River, one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®

January 23, 2017

January 19, 2017

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

Washington, DC – American Rivers applauded the Obama Administration today for acting to protect the health of the Mississippi River and protect communities from flood damage. The agencies agreed not to move forward with a decades-long effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the New Madrid Levee Project.

American Rivers named the Mississippi River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® in 2014 because of the threat the levee project posed to river health, habitat and public safety. See:

As a result of the Obama Administration’s action, floodwaters will continue to reach 70,000 acres of floodplain, nourishing spawning and rearing habitat for fish in the middle Mississippi River as well as essential habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife.

Blocking levee construction also ensures that the New Madrid Floodway, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, will continue to safely store floodwaters during catastrophic floods, protecting regional communities. The New Madrid Floodway serves as a “relief valve” when high water in the Mississippi threatens nearby towns including Cairo, IL.

“This is a big win for one of our nation’s most iconic rivers,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. “We applaud the Obama Administration for acting to safeguard communities from flood damage and protect vital fish and wildlife habitat. Today’s announcement underscores the importance of connecting rivers with their floodplains in the Mississippi River Basin and nationwide.”

The Mississippi River once experienced seasonal floods that spread out over its floodplain, creating a mosaic of backwaters, wetlands and sloughs. These periodic floods were the driving force behind robust and diverse ecosystems that were home to an abundant array of fish, birds and wildlife. Over the past century, levees and flood control projects cut off the river from its floodplain, destroying habitat and impacting river health. Stopping the New Madrid Levee preserves the last connection the middle Mississippi has to its floodplain.


American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters and volunteers.

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