Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative

Ducks Unlimited and Mississippi River City and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) work together to restore wetlands along the Mississippi River for wetlands and wildlife habitat

Ducks Unlimited is no stranger to working alongside like-minded partners to develop, implement and manage science-based restoration projects along the Mississippi River, so when the opportunity to partner with MRCTI arose to work together to scale projects for nature, people and economies it was a no-brainer.

Partnership origin

In 2021 Ducks Unlimited and Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI) signed a Memorandum of Common Purpose, signaling our goal to protect and restore wetlands and riparian habitats along the Mississippi River for the benefit of both migrating waterfowl and Mississippi River communities and towns.


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Who is MRTCI?

MRCTI is a coalition of 104 mayors from across the Mississippi River Mainstem, which spans from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Established in 2012, MRCTI was created to serve as a common voice to cities along the World’s most vital working river to help improve corridor city infrastructure, sustainable development, River economy, environmental protection and local recreation.


One in twelve people on Earth consume commodities grown in the Mississippi River Basin. Over 90 percent of all U.S. grain moves on the Mississippi River. Nearly $1 trillion in products is transported on the Mississippi River. Yet, the Mississippi River corridor is not immune to the impacts of climate change, with actual losses exceeding $245 billion since 2005, resulting in changes in River flow, loss of wetlands, issues in water quality, disruptions of transportation, and the decline in tourism and recreation.


Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive strategies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate impacts and natural disasters and promoting sustainable management of water resources and ecosystems. With experts in nature-based engineering, land protection, water rights and regulations and ecological restoration, DU’s projects not only benefit wetlands and waterfowl habitat, but address sustainable infrastructure, supply chain resilience and economic development.

Partnership goals

Our Work Impacts

Water Quality

Donor support will help protect and restore crucial breeding habitat across the continent, from prairie potholes to the boreal forest; and fund conservation advocacy, scientific research, sustainability and biodiversity efforts.

Wildlife Habitat restoration

Investment in these essential landscapes means protecting and restoring wintering and staging habitats to ensure healthy waterfowl return to the breeding grounds. These habitats also provide flood protection and buffering against coastal storms and sea-level rise.

Economic Benefits

Ducks Unlimited relies on science to guide our conservation on landscapes most important to wildlife, people and communities. Donor support will fund ongoing scientific research, support DU’s advocacy work around policies and regulations, and help educate and engage tomorrow’s conservationists.

Disaster Relief

One of Ducks Unlimited’s strategic goals is to grow the scale, accelerate the pace, and strengthen the impact of wetlands and waterfowl habitat delivery. Donor support will fund programs to encourage volunteerism and fund mission-focused projects and initiatives where the need is greatest.

Climate Resiliency

The migratory patterns of waterfowl and the creation of mighty wetland habitats have developed over long periods of time. Similarly, Ducks Unlimited has built a robust conservation program thanks to long periods of support from donors who leave a legacy through gift/estate planning and endowments.

Why the Mississippi River?

Since 2011, the Mississippi River Valley has sustained nearly $60 billion in natural disaster impacts, including flooding, droughts and major storms. Under the Memorandum, MRCTI and DU will work together to profile and promote disaster mitigation through habitat restoration.

  • Second longest river in North America, with its watershed covering 40% of the continental U.S.
  • Provides drinking water to more than 20 million people and 50 cities
  • Over 60 billion gallons of fresh water are withdrawn from the river daily
  • The river's resources support 1.5 million jobs and create $496.7 billion in annual revenue
  • 92% of the nation's agriculture exports originate in the Mississippi River Basin
  • 60% of North American birds use the Mississippi River Basin as their migratory flyway

Where We Work

Our Work


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Investing in Solutions


Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam delivers opening remarks at the DU and MRCTI partnership ceremony

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Dr. Ellen Herbert, DU senior scientist, addresses the media and stakeholders about project opportunities and deliveries along the Mississippi River and its corridors

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DU's Chief Conservation Officer Dr. Karen Waldrop addresses the importance of restoring floodplains along Mississippi River

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Former Memphis Mayor and MRCTI chairman Jim Strickland poses with DU leaders (from left) Dr. Karen Waldrop, chief conservation officer; Adam Putnam, CEO; Strickland; Jamie Rader, director of operations for Great Lakes Atlantic Region; and Kellis Moss, director of public policy at the partnership announcement

Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

"In the history of the U.S. there have been few efforts as important to our nations as MRCTI"

Melvin Carter, Mayor of St. Paul Minnesota

"Our ability to be good stewards of the River is critical to our future"

LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans, LA

"Thank you, MRCTI for helping us respond when we need it most"

Sharon Weston Broome, Mayor of Baton Rouge, LA

"Thanks to MRCTI, we have a better stormwater management plan with an EPA grant to develop it further."

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Meet Our Mayors

Meet the mayors of the towns who have joined with Ducks Unlimited to make the MRCTI Initiative possible!

Meet our mayors