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Restoring Ups and Downs on the Mississippi
(pg 5 of 11)

But one spring an early storm blew ice sheets out of the backwaters, uprooting aquatic vegetation, such as the towering reeds known as Phragmites, Davis said. Floods in 1965 and 1969 inundated celery beds with muddy water that blocked the sun and further stunted aquatic plants. With fewer beds of Phragmites to block wind, waves increased in height, stirring the bottom and keeping water murky. Less light reached the river bottom, and even fewer plants grew, creating a "snowballing effect of loss of plants," Davis said.

During the 1980s, Weaver Bottoms became a turbid, shallow, sediment-filled lake. Gone were most of the wild celery beds, fingernail clams, and ducks. Though pelicans and egrets still stalked gizzard shad, much of the Bottoms' former abundance had disappeared.

Watch to view transformation to a shallow lake


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