Communities' relationships to the Mississippi River have changed over time.
It has only been relatively recently that the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul stopped "turning their backs" to the river that played such an important role in transportation, power, and industry as the cities developed. St. Cloud is still contemplating ways to more effectively embrace the river as a recreational, natural, and economic development asset for its residents. Between the urban centers of the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, suburban, rural and agricultural activities constitute yet another way in which people interact with the great Mississippi.
As we change the way we relate to-and develop along-the Mississippi River, we change the river itself. For those of us who live or work along or near the river, practically all of what we do on land has some impact on the quality of the river, whether it be due to increased development and impervious surfaces, the production of agricultural and urban runoff, how we handle our waste, or what kind of changes we make to vegetative cover and wildlife habitat. Through all changes we make to it, the Mississippi River remains a critical part of our lives as a source of drinking and industrial water, transportation, economic development, and recreational and natural resources. Simply put: our lives as we know them depend significantly on the Mississippi River!
The good news is that there is no shortage of people whose decisions and actions can help keep the river healthy so we can continue to benefit from it. The bad news is that there are so many people whose work impacts the river that it's easy to miss opportunities to work together towards common goals.