Conference attendees on NGRREC’s green living roof, overlooking Mississippi River.

EAST ALTON – Last week, the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) of Lewis and Clark Community College welcomed non-profit representatives from around the nation to a two-day Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) workshop focused on the benefits of natural infrastructure.

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“The recent science workshop, hosted by NGRREC, served as a reminder of the complexity and urgency to address flooding, drought, water pollution and other basin-wide issues,” EDF Senior Director of Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds Will McDow said. “Through improved data, monitoring and modeling at the local, watershed and basin level, we can better quantify the benefits of projects that have been initiated by stakeholders and accelerate the implementation of additional investments across the Mississippi River Basin.”

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Natural infrastructure protects the landscape from processes like erosion and flooding. They can be natural or engineered and offer additional benefits such as wildlife habitats or for recreation. Examples of natural infrastructure includes wetlands, sand dunes, permeable pavement, and the beautiful green living roof at NGRREC.

“By bringing together many of the non-profit organizations doing work on outreach and restoration in the basin, we confirmed the need for collective action to share data and information for the benefit of the river and its communities,” NGRREC Senior Water Policy and Science Advisor Ellen Gilinsky said.

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC)

Founded in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, NGRREC is dedicated to the study of great river systems and the communities that use them, facilitating the efficient implementation of science into policy and to practice. The center aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities.

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