Big Rivers

The Mississippi River is a 2,350-mile long water highway and wildlife habitat that runs through the center of the United States. People move corn, wheat, wood, steel, iron, and coal up and down the river on giant barges. The Mississippi supplies drinking water for the millions of people in more than 50 cities along its banks. But people aren't the only ones who use and need this mighty river. More than 325 species of birds travel and nest along the Mississippi. It is home to fish, turtles, frogs, and many other types of wildlife. The river also supplies water to one-quarter of the nation's wetlands where even more kinds of wildlife live. Wetlands benefit people, too. Coastal marshes slow down hurricanes moving inland, preventing storm damage to communities.

The fact that so many people use the Mississippi and live along its banks has caused some serious problems. Water that flows into the river from farm fields and dirty city streets is often full of chemicals. These chemicals have polluted the Mississippi for years and years, making the river unhealthy for many kinds of wildlife. (A dirty river isn't healthy for people, either.) Locks and dams built to make the river easier for barges to travel on have choked off the water supply to wetlands.

Is there a way for people and wildlife to share the Mississippi River? Lots of people are taking action to make that happen-concerned citizens, government workers, scientists, farmers, business owners, and Audubon's Mississippi River Initiative. Everyone agrees that helping the Mississippi River starts with stopping pollution. Audubon is also working on restoring wildlife habitat along the river, including those important wetlands. There's no doubt that cleaner river will be good for communities of people and wildlife, too.

The Pascagoula River

Even though the Mississippi River and Pascagoula River flow through the state of Mississippi, the Pascagoula is in a different watershed than its larger neighbor to the west. It has species of animals no other river in America has, including the yellow-blotched sawback turtle. The ancient gulf sturgeon chooses the Pascagoula River as one of the few places it goes to breed.

Over the centuries the Pascagoula has had many names:

  • Fiume Pescagoula
  • Pasca Oocooloo River
  • Pascoboula River
  • Paska Okla River
  • Paspagola River
  • Pasquagola River
  • Rio de Pascagula
  • Riviere des Pascagoula
  • Riviere des Pascagoulas
  • Singing River

Whatever you choose to call it, the Pascagoula is a wild and wonderful place; and the last major river with no dams in the entire continental United States.

Learn more about the importance of wetlands and water.