Are you familiar with the story of the duo that RAN down the entire Mississippi River in 2019? Did you know that along the way, they deeply listened, learned, and gathered the voices and stories of 600 people? Three years later, the next chapter of the epic saga is here...
On Tuesday, November 1st at 6 pm CT, join Relay of Voices via Zoom for the launch event of their all-new storytelling platform! At this event, project creator Victoria Bradford Strybicki will release the first of nine chapters and explain the power of this new interactive platform. The event is co-hosted by Mississippi River Network Outreach Manager Michael Anderson and features testimonials from River "voices" and a Q&A. Register here to receive the Zoom link!
Stories are an excellent path to people's hearts, and we look forward to the unveiling of this new resource for all of us. LWV UMRR is a member of the Mississippi River Network. We thank them for their wonderful programs and diligent work on behalf of the River.
Chicago's local forest preserves are a treasure. Join LWV Chicago for a series of naturalist-led walks in the woods of Chicago. All are welcome – bring a friend! Click the link for each walk below to learn more and register.
LWV Chicago is a supporter of the Cook County Forest Preserve VOTE YES referendum coming up on the November ballot—voters will have the opportunity to vote YES to protect clean water sources, air quality, and wildlife in Cook County. A property tax increase of 0.025% (less than $1.66/month for the vast majority of homeowners) will protect, restore, and expand the Cook County Forest Preserves.
LWV Chicago has the following walks planned. Please share this and encourage others to register for the walks. The only way people can understand the importance of Voting Yes for the November referendum is to get out into the woods! Anyone can learn more and to register for the walks by clicking on the links:
Dan Ryan Woods
Wednesday, June 8, 10:00 AM–Noon
S Western Ave & W 87th St
Tuesday, July 19, 10:00–11:30 AM
W Doty Ave S, southeast of E 130th St & S Ellis Ave
Wednesday, August 3, 10:00–11:30 AM
W Irving Park Rd, east of Des Plaines River Rd
Catherine Chevalier Woods
Thursday, September 15, 10:00–11:30 AM
N East River Rd, north of W Foster Ave
The answer is that Congress is one piece – an important one – of the solution to the Mississippi’s woes. In the UMRR Annual Meeting, we will have an exciting panel of speakers to talk about bills currently in the US Congress that have the potential to greatly affect our river. We will also explore the idea of a “compact” between river states to protect the river from water diversions. This session will set the stage for the work that LWV UMRR will tackle in the years to come.
Join LWV UMRR for this session on May 21 at 10:30. This meeting will be held in Webinar format on Zoom - pre-registration is required. Click this link to pre-register! You will receive the link to the meeting by return email; we will send reminders in May, including on the 21st. Registration is open until the meeting starts on May 21 at 10:30.
We have a great slate of panelists for this session - representatives from other organizations working for the river and leading work on federal bills and big ideas. We will cover the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience initiative (MRRRI), the Safeguarding the Mississippi River Together initiative (SMRT), the Farm Bill reauthorization and a big idea - the notion of an Upper Midwest Compact to protect the waters of the Mississippi from diversion. Our speakers represent organizations that are working to protect the Mississippi.
Championing the Upper Mississippi River Region
Mary Ellen Miller, President, League of Women Voters Upper Mississippi River Region
How a life-long conservationist became an advocate for the Mississippi…an LWV president discusses conservation & change
Conservation activist and self-proclaimed tree-hugger, LWV UMRR Chair Mary Ellen Miller shared the League’s connection between advocacy, voting and the state of the river. She discussed the work that members are involved with to improve soil health and water quality and how they are working with others in the Upper Mississippi River network to take action for change. Here's the link see a recording of her talk.
This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) of the Izaak Walton League of America/MN Division, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. This program feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available shortly after they air live.
February's program featured Kelly McGinnis of the Mississippi River Network. You can see the .
“The POWER of 1 Mississippi & 20,000 River Citizens” Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Kelly McGinnis— February 22nd, 2022 How 58 organizations team up to drive policy—“Can the river count on you?” A call to action…
Alan Guebert bio: Alan Guebert was raised on a 720-acre, 100-cow dairy farm in southern Illinois. After graduating the University of Illinois in 1980, he served as an associate editor at Professional Farmers of America in Cedar Falls, Iowa and Successful Farming magazine in Des Moines. Later he spent eight years as a contributing editor for Farm Journal magazine of Philadelphia.
In 1993, Guebert began the Farm and Food File, a weekly newspaper column on farm and food policy and politics. Twenty-eight years and 1 million words later, the Farm and Food File continues to be published weekly in 26 states and two Canadian provinces.
Guebert currently lives in Madison, WI, with his spouse, the lovely Catherine. They have two children and three grandchildren.
Minnesota's investigation into PFAS contamination began in 2002 when 3M notified the MPCA of PFAS in its Cottage Grove production well. In 2004, PFAS were found to have contaminated drinking water supplies in parts of the eastern Twin Cities, and fish tested in the Mississippi River Pool 2 had high concentrations near the discharge from the 3M Cottage Grove facility. Most of the contamination was traced to four dumps or landfills. The East Metro investigations have identified an area of groundwater contamination covering over 150 square miles, affecting the drinking water supplies of over 175,000 Minnesotans.
This meeting is a follow-up to UMRR's October 4 PFAS webinar, PFAS The Unfolding Story which took a regional look at PFAS contamination, and then focused on problems in Wisconsin. You can watch the video of this meeting at this link. This post also includes supplemental material on PFAS sources and actions.
Kirk Koudelka, MPCA Assistant Commissioner
Kirk Koudelka was appointed Assistant Commissioner for Land Policy and Strategic Initiatives in May 2012.
Prior to that, Kirk served as the Legislative Director at the MPCA. He led the agency’s legislative efforts for the 2011 through 2014 legislative sessions in both roles.
Before coming to the agency, Kirk spent 11 legislative sessions at the Minnesota House of Representatives in various capacities. The last six years were spent focused on environmental and natural resources issues, four for which were with the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee. It included administering the Solid Waste, Recycling and Resources Conservation Working Group focusing on state level changes, but also internal changes at the Legislature.
Kirk has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Hamline University.
The video of this webinar is available for viewing now at this link: https://youtu.be/SodForAydqQ
On October 4, LWV UMRR hosted a panel discussion on PFAS. Our presenters helped us understand how PFAS have become a big part of our lives – present in food packaging, household products and drinking water – and what we know about how they affect our health. As awareness of PFAS contamination grows, communities are struggling to cope with tainted drinking water while engaging in advocacy to increase public awareness and bring about constructive change. Watch the video to learn what the federal government and states are doing to establish safe standards for drinking water and ban the use of PFAS in manufacturing. Most importantly, learn what you can do to help protect yourself, your family and your community.
Jeff Lamont – Retired hydrogeologist, works with SOH2O (Save Our H2O) to ensure safe drinking water for residents in Northeast Wisconsin and to advocate for state and federal standards for PFAS compounds. Jeff resides in the Tyco/JCI groundwater contamination plume in the Marinette and Town of Peshtigo area and has a private well impacted by PFAS. Jeff and his wife have been living with bottled water for drinking and cooking for the last 3.5 years.
Erika Schreder – Science Director, Toxic-Free Future, conducts and publishes research on toxic chemicals, their presence in people and products, and safer alternatives.
Deanna White – Minnesota Director, Clean Water Action, coordinates EPA and state level interactions for policy and legislation. Deanna has an extensive background in community organizing and advocacy.
The Illinois Tollway stretches 294 miles (473 km) of tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois. This highway system includes these tollways:
LWV Upper Mississippi River Region, or UMRR (pronounced “Ummer”), is an interleague organization focused on water quality. UMRR is made up of 60 local Leagues in the states of Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Our geographic area is the Upper Mississippi River basin – that part of the Upper Mississippi basin upstream of the river’s confluence with the Ohio at the south edge of Illinois. Here’s a link to an UMRR blog post to learn more about what an ILO is and how it fits into the LWV national structure, and to learn more about how our structure strengthens our work, allowing the amplification of the voice of League throughout the watershed.
Established in 2015, UMRR’s Board has strong representation from each of our four member states. Our Board members are listed on our Contact Us page– you may know some of us! The Board meets six times a year on the first Monday of even numbered months. In the pre-Covid days, we traveled around the basin for these meetings, which was a great way to get to know our members and the water issues in their communities. Now, everything is on the same schedule, but virtual. For each Board meeting, we also hold an educational session that focuses on a specific topic of concern. These educational sessions are open to the public and recorded videos are shared and posted.
Upcoming educational sessions are planned on
How to connect with LWV UMRR:
LWV UMRR’s website has lots of information. Our Blog features 2-3 posts per month on topics that UMRR is working on. One recent post includes a link to video from our Feb 1 meeting, where we learned about watershed-scale work to reach people and promote soil health and water quality. Our “Upcoming Events” page includes posts for our upcoming meetings and maintains Board meeting information from past events. Here, those who are interested can see our Board agendas, meeting minutes, Treasurer reports, and Action Committee reports as well as see the topics that were included in the educational sessions.
Almost every month, LWV UMRR puts out a newsletter that includes links to our Blog posts and other items of interest. You can sign up to receive the newsletter by submitting the info through our Contact Us page, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leagues that are not already members can join UMRR through our Membership page, and anyone interested in making a donation can do so on our Donate page.
In February of 2019, Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is pleased to announce the 16 members of the bipartisan Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality. There are 12 Republican representative and senators and 4 Democrats. Representative Todd Novak-R-Dodgeville is the Chair and Representative Katrina Shankland-D-Stevens Point-Co-Chair.
The development of the special legislative committee commenced after Reps. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) made a request to the speaker in reaction to a preliminary report showing widespread contamination in private wells in southwestern Wisconsin. Because of the great importance of the issue being studied, this task force will also include members of the state Senate.
“Wisconsinites deserve to have safe, clean and healthy water,” said Speaker Vos. “We’re beginning this essential work by gathering input from across Wisconsin. I’m pleased these legislators have agreed to take part in this statewide, collaborative effort.”
The task force has been asked to make recommendations on assessing and improving the quality of surface water and groundwater. Legislators will hold public hearings around Wisconsin to gather information on the specific concerns in the various regions of the state. The speaker’s office has already been contacted by dozens of groups including Wisconsin Wetlands Association, the UW Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and the Wisconsin Conservation Voters. “The goal is to take input from everyone; stakeholder groups, individuals and local officials,” said Speaker Vos. “Every important solution starts with robust conversation.
The Task Force will be traveling to 11 Wisconsin cities to get input. Next week Mauston, Wisconsin will have their hearing on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 and La Crosse, Wisconsin will have their hearing on Thursday, June 13th, 2019. For more information, click here.
|LWV Upper Mississippi River Region||