Like other large rivers, the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) serves a diversity of roles. The UMRS provides commercial and recreational fishing, floodplain agriculture, drinking water for many communities, an important bird migration pathway, a variety of recreational activities, and a navigation system that transports much of the country's agricultural exports. These multiple roles present significant management challenges. Regular assessment of the condition of the river is needed to improve management plans and evaluate their effectiveness. This report provides a summary of the recent status (mean and range of conditions) and trends (change in direction over time) for 24 indicators of the ecological condition of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers using data collected through the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP). The 24 indicators were grouped into seven categories: hydrology, sedimentation, water quality, land cover, aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, and fish. Most of the data used in the report were collected between about 1993 and 2004, although some older data were also used to compare to recent conditions.Historical observations and current LTRMP data clearly indicate that the UMRS has been changed by human activity in ways that have diminished the ecological health of the river. The data indicate that status and trends differ among regions, and we expect that regional responses to various ecological rehabilitation techniques will differ as well. The continuing role of the LTRMP will be to provide the data needed to assess changes in river conditions and to determine how those changes relate to management actions, natural variation, and the overall ecological integrity of the river system.
Additional publication details
Federal Government Series
Status and trends of selected resources in the Upper Mississippi River System
Long Term Resource Monitoring Program Technical Report