When a septic drain field fails, it immediately gets your attention. This is what’s happening RIGHT NOW on my beloved Mississippi. Sharing this with you now before turds start hitting the bathroom floor.
Water tables in the heartland are at record high levels. The Miss drains 2/3 of the continental USA, with human encroachment eliminating green space, levees protecting towns and several other factors funneling it on downstream.
In my lifetime siltation has caused incredible reduction in the flood plain. When I was a kid you could boat from the backwaters around Savanna and Thomson on pool 13 to the channel a half-dozen different ways. Now channel access is limited passage to just one shallow dredge cut. The massive dredging at Potter’s marsh near Thomson which was supposed to last 50 years got silted in in just 5. the USACE has learned nothing from this and many other examples. Siltation is now a serious issue over 100 river miles north on pool 11 at Guttenberg.
Last year the Miss on pool 9 only dropped to ‘normal’ summer levels in August. The rest of the year we were at or near flood stage. Some trees which hold back the siltation on river island’s have greater tolerance for ‘wet feet’ than others. Silver maple is very tolerant. 70+ percent of trees in the islands are silver maple. Hundreds upon hundred of maples died since last summer. Remaining trees have had ‘wet feet’ since ice out. Many are showing October colors in mid-July. They won’t be around next year.
One branch of USACE(Corps of Engineers) is trying to add diversity to island fauna, planting oak, hackberry, river birch. etc. under the mature tree canopy. Great idea BUT its already failed several times. What is that definition of insanity? One plan is to augment slightly higher ground in flood plains by dredging adjacent low spots and moving spoils to make higher ground. Apparently the engineers haven’t learned water will take the easiest path. The River is always trying to shorten it’s route downstream. God designed it that way! Trying to fix one problem will likely lead to a worse one as nature takes it’s course. If man is so mighty, why has he only built one bridge across the Miss every 20 miles or so? Didja know, these bridges are among the very worst in the USA?
Over the past several weeks I’ve interviewed several USACE and FWS folks. They get their marching orders from D.C., authored by congress–the same bunch who mandated the USACE maintain a 4′ channel in 1878, and demanded it be deepened to 9′ in the 1930’s. The efficiency of these single-minded idiots already started showing results when I started seriously fishin’ the River 30 years later. My, oh my! Look at that beautiful ship canal today.
Back in the 1980’s thunder from the people caused congress to address a dual purpose use for the Immortal River, with recreation and conservation sharing near equal status with navigation. The genesis of this movement was in establishing the FWS wildlife refuge system several decades prior to that–a half-assed plan which might have finally been mitigated to functionality when congress passed laws making it so…but in typical congressional fashion they went to lunch and never returned when it came to funding.
So here we are, mid-July. Still at action stage with just one toilet flush of a rainstorm in the twin cities sending the Miss back up to flood again. A couple of the USACE folks I talked to–the natural resource instead of the navigation wing are optimistic. They see the glass as half full. Fact is, glass has spilled over from the table to the floor and they keep planting trees on perpetually flooded islands which will soon be no more.
Once again, the orders come from congress, every member of which is too busy posturing to keep their own trough full than to DO THEIR JOBS. Think these fat foxes will ever vote in term limits for their time at the chicken coop?
A couple of federal employees said they “wish” the River would go down. Well, wish in one hand and s**t the other and tell me which on fills up first!
bottom line: I’m convinced the Miss is at a tipping point from where there is no return. People won’t demand congress does something about it until their own personal toilet overflows–like its gonna do with the borderline hurricane hitting Nawlins right now, and beaches in the state of Mississippi closed cuz changes in gulf pH from too much fresh water coming in from the Miss have places wads of toxic algae on the beaches.
Can’t take it anymore. Gonna go to the closest launch where I’ll only get wet to the knees putting the Lund in and go catch some bass. The skinny on exactly how to do this will be right here when I finally get off the water. Stay safe!