The “Upper Mississippi River Conservation Survey Committee” was created in Dubuque, Iowa on December 15, 1943, with 22 “River Rats” (biologists) from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. “Survey” was later dropped from the Committee’s name and now the organization is called the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee (UMRCC).
The Committee was envisioned to be only a temporary organization and would be terminated after the completion of a three-year fish investigation. However, after fishery investigations got underway, biologists recognized the necessity of a permanent organization.
Although the UMRCC formed mostly due to commercial fishing issues, there was an abundance of other conservation issues that could be more effectively tackled if the five states spoke with a unified voice.
The UMRCC has grown to more than 200 resource managers working in multiple disciplines including fisheries, mussels, recreation, wildlife, water quality, vegetation, education, and law enforcement.
Original committee’s three major objectives:
- Determine the nature and importance of sport and commercial fisheries of the UMR and factors influencing the abundance of fish
- Determine the importance of wildlife resources other than fish in the UMR and factors governing the abundance of various species
- Collect data and provide suggestions for uniform fishing regulations among the states, and supply recommendations for physical control of the river relating its effect on wildlife resources.
The longevity of the UMRCC partnership is a testament to the power of partnership in the planning and implementation of conservation initiatives. In 2019, the UMRCC celebrated it’s 75th anniversary in La Crosse, WI. A publication honoring the history of the UMRCC was created for the occasion (Conserving Natural & Recreational Resources of the Upper Mississippi River for 75 years).