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The Mississippi River is the nation’s best-known and most important river system. As America’s “great river,” it is both an ecological lifeline to the nation and a bellwether of the nation’s health in all aspects: social, economic, environmental, physical, mental, and spiritual. Today, coordinated recognition, management, and monitoring of the river at the federal, state, and local levels is necessary to change the nature of the river’s status as a largely neglected and ignored “orphan.”

Mississippi River Connections Collaborative represents a new prototype for large landscape, river-long resource restoration and protection that relies on a network approach to amplify the depth and reach of individual parks, trails, and refuges in aggregate and to monitor the relationship of human populations to these resources. This newly emerging collaborative is an informal network of  local, state and federal refuge, park, and trail managers, alongside non-profit organizations that are committed to connecting people to the Mississippi River through:
·      Recreation and river access;
·      History, culture, and lore;
·      Education and stewardship; and,
·      By co-creation and co-delivery of resource-based messaging and programs.
 
 
Mississippi River Connections Collaborative
seeks to provide people with physical and thematic connections to the river, thereby tapping unrealized potential to restore and protect this nationally significant resource. Unique attributes of the Mississippi contribute to its significance as a national treasured landscape. These include 10 national parks, 8 national scenic and historic trails, 32 national wildlife refuges, and dozens of state parks. A total of 326 species of  North American birds use the river basin as a migratory flyway, stimulating wildlife-based recreation and tourism. More than 12 million people live in the 125 counties and parishes that border the river; and the river drains 41% of the contiguous United States, providing drinking water to more than 18 million people.