University News

WIU To Participate in Upper Mississippi River Conference Aug. 21-23

July 8, 2008

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - - Western Illinois University students and faculty who are involved in research along the Mississippi River and its tributaries will have an important venue to present their river-related work during the inaugural Upper Mississippi River Conference Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 21-23 at the i wireless Center in Moline.

The conference, "Weaving Multiple Uses into Sustainable River Communities," is sponsored by River Action ( - - a nonprofit organization that fosters the environmental, economic and cultural vitality of the Mississippi River and its riverfront in the Quad Cities region; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and U.S. Coast Guard.

Western Illinois University will host the welcoming reception from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21 at the i wireless Center, which will include a greeting by Western Illinois President Al Goldfarb as well exhibits and interactive displays of Western's students and faculty research, according to Roger Viadero, director of Western Illinois University's Institute for Environmental Studies (IES) and a professor of biological sciences.

"We are excited about this opportunity to showcase the work of our students and faculty to stakeholders throughout the Upper Mississippi River (UMR). This is a terrific venue for WIU to connect with a wide variety of constituents - - from environmental professionals to planners and elected officials. Connecting WIU with the broader UMR community is our main goal," Viadero added.

Conference attendees will include city planners, elected officials, landscape architects, environmental educators and groups and economic developers. Concurrent sessions throughout Friday and Saturday will focus on three tracks: Natural Resources and Environmental Planning, River Recreation Opportunities and How They Are Realized, and Urban Waterfront Needs in the Ecological City.

Viadero will serve as moderator of Friday's 9:45-11:45 a.m. Track 1: Natural Resources and Environmental Planning with the topic "Ecology and Management Roles." Presenters for this session will be from the National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

At 3:45 p.m. Friday the group will convene for an educational field trip to Nahant Marsh, a 513-acre urban wetland, adjacent to the Mississippi River in Davenport, IA. The marsh was used for skeet and trap shooting from the 1960s through 1996. As a result of lead contamination, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed Nahant Marsh as a Superfund site in 1996. Three years later, the EPA removed more than 143 tons of lead-contaminated soil from 13 acres at a cost of $2 million, according to the River Action website.

"The field trip will offer participants a unique opportunity to see the positive outcomes of cleanup in the context of an important, but rapidly diminishing resource - - urban wetlands," Viadero said.

Participants will visit the educational center, learn about the cleanup process, tour a variety of nature trails and become informed of future plans for the site.

On Saturday, Aug. 23, Richard Louv, acclaimed author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" will make a closing plenary presentation, which is open free to the public.

Viadero, a member of the conference planning committee, is recognized as a subject matter expert (SME) in aquaculture management by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In February, he was installed as the president of the Aquacultural Engineering Society (AES) and serves on the editorial board of Elsevier Science's Journal of Aquacultural Engineering. He is an American Fisheries Society (AFS) Certified Fisheries Professional and is a member of the American Fisheries Society, the World Aquaculture Society, American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Chemical Society. In January, Viadero was promoted to senior member status in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

For more information about the Upper Mississippi River Conference, including conference schedule and registration, visit the conference web site at, telephone 563/322-2969 or e-mail To contact Viadero, call Western's Institute for Environmental Studies, 309/298-1632, or e-mail

Posted By: Alisha Looney (
Office of University Communications & Marketing