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Wild Neighbors of the Mississippi River

Gordon Dietzman

Wild Neighbors Exhibit
Wild Neighbors Exhibit
Wild Neighbors Exhibit

The Mississippi River as a Conservation Success Story

The Minnesota stretch of the Mississippi River is bounded by northern mixed forests, eastern deciduous forests, floodplain forests, and western tallgrass prairies. This rich environment hosts an enormous diversity of wildlife, but that hasn’t always been the case. The river, heavily polluted in the early 1900s, lost its fish, birds were uncommon, and most mammals were missing from the landscape.

The Mississippi River of today is much different than the impoverished river of a few decades ago. While the river faces emerging challenges, its water and air are cleaner, and we have developed a greater appreciation and tolerance for the wild neighbors which have returned to its waters and shorelines. The photographs of this exhibit capture complex lives poorly in split-second increments but will, hopefully, call us to enjoy the life of this great river in person while prompting us to work to ensure its further recovery.

Gordon Dietzman describes himself as a “curious photographer/naturalist” interested in wildlife, science, and art. He holds a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies (emphasis in environmental interpretation) from the University of Wisconsin. He is currently employed by the National Park Service but also has worked in agriculture, environmental education, the conservation of endangered species, and engineering. His photographic and employment focus is on the upper Mississippi River basin, but he has photographed wildlife and wild landscapes across North America and Southeast Asia.