The UMRCC accomplishes its work primarily through the voluntary efforts of many river resource managers and a very modest budget supported by the annual dues of the five member states.
During its early existence, the Committee recognized the need to have a permanent employee manage the day-to-day affairs of the Committee. As a result, the US Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to fund the appointment of a permanent UMRCC Coordinator in 1958 and continues to fund a Coordinator and support staff. In the late 1960’s, the Committee realized that the organization must have a constitution to guide the Committee, so a Constitution was approved in 1975.
Current UMRCC activities are governed by an Executive Board which consists of one voting representative from each of the five UMR states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. Chairmanship of the Executive Board rotates from year to year. Also on the Board are nonvoting members consisting of five Technical Committee Chairmen (Fisheries, Wildlife, OREIT, Water Quality, and Law Enforcement) two Committees (Mussel and Vegetation), an observer from the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and the UMRCC Coordinator.
The primary activity of the founding Committee was to conduct fishery investigations on the river. Considerable time was also devoted to developing uniform fishing regulations and standard definitions for various commercial fishing gear. Creating a standardized form for commercial fishermen to report their harvest proved to be a formidable task. Convincing fishermen to complete it accurately and return it was a major public relations challenge.
Over the years, the UMRCC has focused on coordinating research activities among the state and federal natural research agencies rather than performing its own investigations. The UMRCC has assumed a leadership role on the UMR in fostering communication between the multiple state and federal agencies that manage the river’s resources.
UMR managers have held annual meetings since 1943 to discuss Mississippi River issues, ongoing research, and UMRCC projects. The proceedings of these meetings have been published annually by the UMRCC.
In addition to annual and fall meetings of the Technical Sections, the UMRCC disseminates information to its members and the public through a variety of mechanisms including:
- Publishing technical reports on fisheries, wildlife, recreation, and water quality.
- Publishing a quarterly newsletter to keep UMRCC members informed about the latest events and issues on the river.
- Publishing an annual summary of current UMR scientific investigations.
- Conducting/sponsoring special workshops and symposia.
- Maintaining a technical library and computerized database of over 4,000 documents relating to the Upper Mississippi River.
- Promoting an understanding and appreciation of UMR natural resources through presentations to public and private organizations that have an interest in the river.