On July 27th, Abby Braman of Madison, Mississippi became the state’s first Pearl Riverkeeper. The Waterkeeper Alliance gave her official approval on her application made earlier in the summer. Abby came to Mississippi from Virginia and began looking for water activities for herself and her children. She was appalled at the amount of litter and floatable trash clogging the Pearl River and its tributaries.
In a short couple of months, she began #Take2Miss as an anti-litter web based campaign for the Pearl and has organized a September 23rd cleanup that will take in as many of the 490 miles of the Pearl River as there are volunteer section captains. The Pearl River Clean Sweep is being organized from Nanih Waiya where the river begins as a confluence of lowland drains near the sacred mounds of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, all the way to the river’s end in Hancock County where it meets salt marsh. This will be Abby’s first event as Riverkeeper, but her Take2Miss website has produced agency action on the litter problem, and her website outlines the Pearl’s many pollution and management problems that need to be addressed.
Regulators along the Pearl haven’t pushed for change in the same way that a Riverkeeper supported by citizen action can. On a river as long as the Pearl, shared by two states, running through a dozen Counties and Parishes, and used in a variety of ways by cities, industry and ordinary people, nothing will change without leadership. A Riverkeeper can provide some needed focus. GRN stands ready to offer Abby our support and encouragement, and we wish Mississippi’s newest Riverkeeper luck, energy and interest from people concerned about this important Gulf Coastal Plain river.
Andrew Whitehurst is GRN's water program director, he lives in Madison, Ms. and works on Mississippi's water and wetland issues.