Transcript: Protecting Your Community's River (MRCCA, part 1)

(Video on YoutTube; opens in a new window)

Hi everyone, this is Colleen from Friends of the Mississippi River. This is the first in a series of short videos about how Twin Cities communities can protect the river through their Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area, or MRCCA, ordinances.

Today let’s start with some basic questions: why should we care about the Mississippi River? And how can local communities help protect it?

Minnesota is the headwaters state for one of the world’s great rivers. This is the Mississippi River watershed, showing all of the other rivers that flow into the Mississippi. 32 states and two Canadian provinces send some of their water to the Mississippi. What we do to the river affects millions downstream who rely on the Mississippi for drinking water, recreation, travel, and a healthy environment.

The Twin Cities are located where they are because the river has been drawing people to this place for a long time, maybe 10,000 years or more. For many, it holds spiritual significance. For all of us, it’s rich with scenic, historic, cultural, recreational and economic resources. The Mississippi is America’s most iconic river.

The Mississippi is also an important international flyway for migratory birds and pollinators. 40% of North American wildlife and 60% of bird species use the river corridor.

Both the state of Minnesota and federal government agree that the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities is important. In 1976, the state created the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area, or MRCCA, to protect and preserve the unique scenic, natural, recreational, mineral, economic, cultural, and historic resources along 72 miles of river through the Twin Cities metro area. MRRCA includes 54,000 acres of land in the 25 cities and townships shown here. On this map the river is blue and the Critical Area boundaries are shown in green. Each community implements Critical Area protections through their local river corridor plan and ordinance.

After the state awarded its Critical Area designation in 1976, the federal government followed suit. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area was established in 1988, following the same boundaries the state had previously set. It’s the only national park focused on the Mississippi River. This is what’s called a “partnership park,” meaning that the federal government owns very little of the land within the park boundaries. Local government partners help manage the land to protect and enhance the features that make this a special national park. That’s another reason why it’s important for communities to be engaged in adopting new rules for their riverfronts.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit, where you’ll find more videos explaining the Critical Area rules and how you can get involved, along with lots of other resources and contact information for our staff here at Friends of the Mississippi River. Thank you for joining in our work to protect and enhance our great river.

Back to "What is the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area"

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