GO EXPLORE THE
DRIFTLESS RIVERS AREA
WHAT YOU CAN DO
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Make a planned gift by naming Driftless Rivers National Park Foundation in your will.
FACT ABOUT THE DRIFTLESS RIVERS
Driftless Rivers National Park Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Here is a copy of our IRS Determination Letter.
See our full-color booklet [link] for more information about the incredible national treasure that is the Driftless Area, the world-class outdoor recreation available, the reasons a new national park is needed, and what you can do to help us create the park.
You can purchase a copy of the beautiful hardcover 280-page book, The Becoming of the Driftless Rivers National Park, through our online store. This book provides a comprehensive discussion about the opportunities, benefits and hurdles pertaining to the creation of the proposed national park.
What is the Driftless Area/Region?
What distinguishes the Driftless Area?
Because of this undisturbed status and other factors, some geologists believe that the Kickapoo River may be the oldest active river in the world.
The area repeatedly has served as a refuge for animals and plants during the glacial assaults to surrounding areas. As a result of this refuge status, coupled in some instances with a bizarre geological formation known as an algific talus slope, arctic-type species continue to thrive in the Driftless Region but not in surrounding areas.
The land’s diverse topography harbors many globally-imperiled natural communities with amazing contrast, spanning the gamut of hot-dry sites with prickly pear cactus to Ice Age holdovers like Pleistocene snails and beautiful northern monkshood wildflowers sustained by air chilled and vented from subterranean ice caves and rock fissures.
Why is the Driftless Area special from a conservation perspective?
Our nation’s first soil conservation project of the 1930s was launched in the Coon Creek Watershed around Coon Valley, Wis. with the leadership of Aldo Leopold, the “father” of wildlife conservation. Phil Lewis, a retired UW Professor of Landscape Architecture, identified the Driftless as a region that should be preserved as a natural playground and retreat for surrounding, large urban areas as part of his Circle City concept developed decades ago.
The river floodplain that bisects the Driftless was declared the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in 1924. This 240,000-acre refuge, which runs for 261 miles along the river valley, provides habitat for 40% of America’s waterfowl, more than 300 bird species and 260 species of fish. With more than 500 access points and harbors, the river is a recreational resource to more than 3 million people annually (more than Yellowstone), supporting a $6.6 billion annual recreational/tourism economy. Just a few years ago, the Upper Mississippi River was designated a RAMSAR wetlands of global significance.
Additional conservation focus comes from the Driftless Area Initiative as well as a coalition of nonprofit land trusts known as the Blufflands Alliance. Trout Unlimited recognized the significance of the world-class trout streams of the area when it launched its TUDARE program (Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort) in 2004.
The Driftless Rivers National Park would serve to protect the core area of the Driftless Region while also making it accessible for outdoor recreation and nature appreciation.
How old is the Driftless Area?
When did Europeans first reach the Driftless Area?
What types of fossils have been found in the Driftless Area?
Have there been archaeological discoveries in the Driftless Area?
Native Americans also left behind extensive ancient cave paintings and rock carvings, which have been documented by the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center and others. Even a stone carving of a human head was found in a cave along the Wisconsin River.
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