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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies

Back to the River

Back to the River Incorporated is a public benefit corporation that aims to create and restore an ecological, economic, recreational, and historic corridor along the Missouri River in Nebraska and Iowa.

This project evolved from a long-standing dream that recognizes the river as the heart of the community it traverses. That dream of a healthy, vibrant river is being realized through the combined efforts of government and private sponsors, who appreciate the balance between the river's value as a commercial waterway and as an important natural habitat.

Always a muddy river, the Missouri is the continent's longest river. Once twisted and braided, it brimmed with marshes, oxbow lakes and sandbars, which supported many different kinds of life. In the middle of the 20th century, upstream dams, channelization, and industrial pollution devastated the Missouri River and decimated wildlife populations around it. On April 15, 1997, the Missouri River was designated as the most endangered river system in the country by American Rivers Incorporated. Since that time, the river's quality has been improving by the adoption of modern water pollution control measures. Along with habitat restoration efforts, these measures are beginning to re-create what was once one of North America's greatest natural corridors.

Underlying Back to the River's foundation is the belief that environmental quality and economic development can be compatible. Back to the River encompasses six counties in two states, and reaches more than 650,000 residents along 65 miles of the Missouri River from Mondamin, Iowa, and Herman, Nebraska, all the way to the mouth of Platte River. The National Park Service, the City of Omaha Parks Recreation & District, the Fontenelle Forest Association, the Douglas Country Environmental Services, the City of Council Bluffs, and the Missouri River Preservation Authority have formed an alliance to work toward the betterment of the community and its river system.

Documentation comprises an 131-page report and a video.

Originally submitted by: J. Robert Kerrey, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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