Lower Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office is part of a network of field stations located throughout the nation that works to conserve fish and aquatic resources. Over 300 biologists from the Arctic Circle to the Florida Keys monitor and control ; protect imperiled species; evaluate native fish stocks and their habitats; and work with our partners to solve problems.
Our field stations provide technical assistance to tribes; conduct scientific studies into fishery problems; restore habitat through the National Fish Passage Program and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan; and collaborate with partners to conserve migratory fishes that cross multiple jurisdictions.
The Lower Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office protects, restores and helps mitigate the effects of aquatic habitat threats such as habitat fragmentation on species throughout the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley and Southeastern United States. Our work focuses on restoring threatened and endangered species such as pallid sturgeon and fat pocketbook mussels and working to preclude the listing of aquatic species such as the Yazoo Darter, a species endemic to the Little Tallahatchie River basin and the recently described Yoknapatawpha Darter, endemic to the Yocona River basin in North Mississippi. We also assist in efforts to manage and control invasive species such as Invasive Carp in several Mississippi River sub-basins (Lower Mississippi River, Arkansas, White and Red River, and Tennessee - Cumberland River sub-basins).
The Lower Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office was established in 1994 to serve as the coordination office for the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee (LMRCC). The LMRCC is a coalition of 12 state natural resource conservation and environmental quality agencies in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. It provides the only regional forum dedicated to conserving the natural resources of the Mississippi’s floodplain and focuses on habitat restoration, long-term conservation planning and scientific assessment of the river’s health. Formation of the organization was precipitated by the increasing concerns of natural resource managers regarding the cumulative losses and decreasing diversity of aquatic habitat as well as the declining fisheries resources in the Lower Mississippi River leveed floodplain. Since formation of the office, our geographic and project scope has increased to include control and management of invasive carps, in addition to habitat restoration for the protection of native species, particularly endangered, threatened, and at-risk species.
Importance of the Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the third longest river in the world, flowing for more than 2,350 miles from its headwaters in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico. Its 1.2 million square mile watershed includes about 41 percent of the continental United States and a small area of Canada. Of the world’s rivers, the Mississippi River has the fourth largest drainage basin, produces the seventh highest average discharge, and is generally accepted as one of the rarest and most complex riverine ecosystems. More than one billion tons of commodities, including more than 50 percent of the nation’s grain production, are moved annually on the Mississippi River.
Importance of the Lower Mississippi River
The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley, comprised of portions of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, stretches for 954 river miles south from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers near Cairo, Illinois, to the Gulf of Mexico. At its mouth, the Mississippi River nourishes 4.5-million acres of coastal prairies and marshes, which are an ecological extension of the forested alluvial valley. Together they form a wetland complex of unrivaled scope in the temperate zone of the western hemisphere. Unlike the 1,380 mile reach of the Upper Mississippi River which is constrained by 29 locks and dams, the Lower Mississippi River is free flowing. Historically, the Lower Mississippi River overflowed onto a 30 -125-mile-wide alluvial valley and, along with its tributaries, encompassed the largest floodplain fishery in North America. Because the river was continually creating and abandoning channels in its 15-30 mile wide meander belt, the area was interspersed with permanent and seasonal wetlands. These wetlands flooded shallowly for extended periods almost annually, and there was a great diversity of aquatic habitat types. More than 150 species of fishes were present.
Other Facilities in this Complex
The Lower Mississippi River FWCO is currently collocated with the Private John Allen National Fish Hatchery in Tupelo, Mississippi.