By Kirsten Mitchell

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The future of Minnesota’s most famous river is in danger, according to a new report that ranked the Mississippi among the most endangered in the country.

The environmental group American Rivers listed climate change and pollution as two of the most pressing issues facing the waterway.

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From Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River pumps life across 10 states. It’s home to more than 800 species of birds, fish and wildlife, and it creates an estimated $400 billion in economic activity each year.

“It’s an important flyway for migrating birds, it provides drinking water to 20 million residents, it’s an important economic and recreational resource, but it’s also a river under threat,” Friends of the Mississippi River Water program director Trevor Russell said.

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The nonprofit is not surprised by the findings.

“The biggest threat to the Mississippi River in Minnesota is runoff pollution, whether it’s from urban landscapes or agricultural landscapes,” Russell said.

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Lawmakers will consider federal legislation this year that if passed would fund $300 million for improvements to address water quality issues, restore habitat, reduce aquatic invasive species, and build more green infrastructure that is resilient to storms and floods, he said.

Kirsten Mitchell