Mississippi River report card song

Bill Dennison ·
14 October 2014
Environmental Report Cards | 

We recently (1-2 October 2014) launched the draft Mississippi River report card in Louisville, KY as part of the America's Watershed Initiative Summit. The process of developing the report card is depicted in the following poem I wrote for the occasion.

The Mississippi River Report Card


We started out in St. Louis, Missouri

We set the goal--a watershed report card

We figured, it can't be too hard

But we were tackling the entire Mississippi!


Locations of workshops for each Mississippi River sub-basin. Image by Jane Thomas.

The Mississippi watershed is much of United States

So we broke it down into basins

And held off on our vacations

So we could learn each basin's traits


Workshop locations for each sub-basin

We headed to Moline and then to Cincinnati

Then Memphis and Tulsa and Rapid City

We got to see the Ohio and Arkansas--very pretty

But best of all was the mighty Mississippi


The 6 goals of the Mississippi River Report Card initiative.

We learned about all sorts of recreation

Flood control and economic wealth

Water supply and ecosystem health

And of course the all important navigation


Water–borne transportation in the Mississippi watershed. Image from USACE.

We learned about tugs and what they tow

Barges with coal, grain, gravel and steel

The levees and dikes are a big deal

With locks and dams linking to the Gulf of Mexico


The Rocky Mountains. Photo from Wikimedia

We learned about Rocky Mountain scenes

Across the Great Plains in America's heartland

From Canada and the Great Lakes

All the way down to New Orleans


Catfish are targets for recreational fishing. Image from Mike Wintroath.

We learned about giant catfish and sturgeon

Deltas, bottomland hardwoods, and wetlands

All kinds of sediments--silts and sands

Even droughts and floods before we were done


We made indicators using this knowledge

For a report card of the entire watershed

The Mississippi River Watershed Report Card paddle wheel.

Using good data to give it some cred

And then gathered in Louisville to make a pledge


We pledged restoration in both drier and wetter

In river sections both upper and lower

In tributaries both faster and slower

All in all, we pledged to make the Mississippi better.

Participants of the America’s Watershed Summit 2014 Louisville, KY
Participants of the America’s Watershed Summit 2014 Louisville, KY

Mark Twain's Mississippi River. Photo from Direction's Magazine



Come find the Mississippi River of Mark Twain

You can get there by boat or by car or by train

You will find that you have so much to gain

Come find the Mississippi River of Mark Twain



About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

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