Natural Resource Condition Assessments for Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

A placid river surrounded by trees.
The Mississippi River.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman.

The Mississippi River is one of the world’s great rivers and one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet. It is also a defining feature of the North American continent and is home to a diverse collection of wildlife and plant life. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area is located in eastern Minnesota. The Mississippi and the surrounding bluffs and floodplains provide food and shelter for migrating birds, unique fish, and remarkable mammals. The increasing populations of river otters, amphibians, mussels, and a multitude of fish species show promising improvement in the quality of water within the park.

Traditional NRCA Report: 2015

In an effort to better understand the natural resources and processes within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a Natural Resource Condition Assessment was written and published in 2015. This assessment was a collaborative project between the National Park Service and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. This team examined available data and the needs of the park and chose 16 resource topics to evaluate:

- Mean annual river discharge

- Soundscapes

- Seasonal and annual flow variation

- Vegetation

- Flood duration

- Bird communities

- Current land cover

- Aquatic macroinvertibrates

- Floodplain changes - 1890's to 2000

- Fish community

- Landscape pattern and structure

- Mussel community

- Lightscapes

- Health of biota

- Air quality

- Water quality

The assessment showed that there were two resources in good condition (current land cover and bird communities); five resources with conditions of moderate concern (mean annual discharge, seasonal and annual flow variation, floodplain changes, vegetation, and mussel communities); two resources with conditions mixed between moderate and significant concern (aquatic macroinvertebrates and air quality); and three resources with conditions mostly of significant concern (landscape pattern and structure, fish community, and health of biota). The indicators used to measure water quality had mixed conditions, and the conditions of flood duration, lightscapes, and soundscapes were undetermined due to lack of data or reference information. Resource managers within Mississippi National River and Recreation Area continue to work with their partnerships to ensure continued management of these resources.

For other reports and natural resource datasets visit the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Collection 7765 (results presented are a subset). To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Last updated: February 25, 2022


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