Riverfronts are increasingly valued as public space, but along some large rivers, cities and towns are cut off from their rivers by levees and other flood control infrastructure. For example, until the 1990s, one could visit New Orleans and never see the river because visual access was cut off by artificial levees built on top of the natural levees. While New Orleans has since improved this situation in the touristic downtown area, the problem persists in most parts of the city, and it has long been the case upstream along the Mississippi River in the state of Mississippi. With the exception of some recently developed access points in Vicksburg, Greenville, and Tunica, most of the Mississippi riverfront in Mississippi is without public access. As river banks historically provided important open space and leisure opportunities for people of all walks of life, cutting them off represents a significant impact on recreational opportunities for many in society, notably disadvantaged residents.
In this project, two faculty and five students each from Jackson State University (JSU) and UC Berkeley (UCB) will collaboratively assess sites along the Mississippi currently with public access, some of the riverfront without public access, and make recommendations for improving public access in light of current land use, flood control constraints, and evolving opportunities. The collaboration begins with a visit this month to leveed sites along the Sacramento River and Delta to see how public access has been achieved in some of these locations, and to identify limitations in the existing access and other issues that arise. Students will synthesize their observations, research, and ideas for better management in a workshop and presentation on the UCB campus on 21 May at 4pm. In October, the team will visit sites along the Mississippi River with the same issues in mind, and again summarizing their work in presentations on the JSU campus, and finally in a manuscript submitted to a journal.
Coordinators: Prof Berneece Herbert, JSU; Prof Matt Kondolf, UCB
Funded by the Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Beatrix Farrand Endowment, Riverlab, and Global Metropolitan Studies (UCB), and AAG Bridging the Digital Divide and MARTrec grants (JSU).
Big Rivers Committee at UC Berkeley: Anna Brand, Danielle Rivera, Matt Kondolf
Picture is oblique aerial view of levees flanking channel in the Sacramento Delta. Source: website of Congressman John Garamendi