Letters: Leave our urban Mississippi River as it is, dams and all

LEAVE OUR URBAN MISSISSIPPI AS IT IS

I’m writing in response to Bob Shaw’s article of July 8, about the project that would reshape our stretch of the Mississippi River, a subject near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, the article primarily presented information about potential “gains” from removing the locks and dams, and “returning the river to its natural and wild state,” and did not address the numerous negative consequences of such actions.

As a resident of Mac-Groveland who lives four blocks from the river, I enjoy and appreciate the stretch of Mississippi River between the Lake Street and Ford Parkway bridges on a daily basis, as do countless others. The river is beautiful and serene, and supports a variety of wildlife, including eagles, heron, cranes, and much more. And the seasonal changes are spectacular to behold.

I am also a member of the Minneapolis Rowing Club and row on the river three to four times a week. Our clubhouse is under the Lake Street Bridge, serves our more than 200 members and also houses boats and other equipment for the St. Thomas and Macalester University rowing teams. The University of Minnesota rowing team clubhouse is upriver from us, and the Minnesota Boat Club (founded in 1870) is downriver on Raspberry Island under the Wabasha Bridge in St. Paul. Thus, hundreds of people row on the Mississippi River multiple times per week during April  through October. We also host regattas that draw clubs from around the metro area, as well as regional and out-of-state clubs. We all share a love of rowing, and of the river, and all that it currently offers – beauty, nature, tranquility, and the ever-changing effect of weather and climate.  We appreciate and want to preserve and protect the natural beauty and tranquility of our stretch of the Mississippi River as it is.

The age range of our rowing community is wide: We have rowers in their 70s, and the minimum age for learning to row is 11 years. Our club and other area rowing clubs offer several Learn-to-Row classes each season. New rowers are taught not only how to row, but also to respect and preserve the river environment. Rowers are good stewards of our river, and rowing leaves no negative footprint.

I am also a frequent visitor to the Minnehaha off-leash dog park, along with my dog, Olive. We, and hundreds of other humans and canines, enjoy the freedom and tranquility of that beautiful park all year long.

Hidden Falls Park is across the river from the off-leash dog park. It offers picnic areas, grilling, walking and biking paths, boat ramps, and is frequented by numerous families and individuals. Many other people also enjoy this urban stretch of the Mississippi River, including recreational kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen/women. I fear that removal of the dams would result in severe flooding of these parks and other beach areas – more so than what currently happens in the spring and after heavy summer rains.  And consequently prevent hundreds of urban citizens from recreating in those areas for prolonged periods of time.

The article talked about the project proponents’ vision of restoring the river to its “original, wild state” and creating miles of rapids downstream from St Anthony Falls. I would speculate that only expert kayakers and canoeists would be able to navigate those rapids.

The article also talked about the vision of people being “able to wade across the river” in the summer when water levels drop drastically, and that “people would be inner-tubing by the thousands.” The thought of the Mississippi River dropping to a level so low as to allow people to wade across is not at all appealing. Anyone who frequents the river knows how the quality of the water changes from spring, when the water level is high and the current is swift, to later in the summer when the water level is lower and the current slower. And the thought of people “inner-tubing by the thousands” down this stretch of the Mississippi River is downright appalling. Not only does it mock the vision of a “wild and natural state of the river,” but I cannot even imagine the negative ecological and environmental impact such activity would have on the river and its wildlife, and on the quality of life of the people who live near or visit that stretch of the river.

Furthermore, the “potential gains” of removing the locks and dams are highly speculative. It is known that removing the dams would negatively impact thousands of urban residents who enjoy and appreciate the river in its current, beautiful state.

I urge everyone who lives near the Mississippi River or who recreates on or near the river to attend one of the public hearings scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on July 16 (Mill City Museum in Minneapolis) or 17 (Highland Park Senior High in St. Paul) to voice your opinions. I also urge you to write to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to express your position on this dam removal project that will have many consequences for decades to come.

Karen Marienau, St. Paul

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?

The immigration problem was not addressed by our previous president and he even tried to sue the State of Arizona for enforcing the federal immigration policy. I remember going out on the internet and reading the federal immigration policy. It needs to be updated and revised so start pressuring Congress to get to work.
The issue with the migrant children is sad.

Our society is killing our future work force by the thousands by a process called abortion. Where is the outrage for them? This is hypocritical.

I understand that Minnesota is a predominantly Democratic state but I would hope that some common decency would prevail and our society could take care of our own families.

Marian Salo, Inver Grove Heights

 


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