Kristian is hoping to canoe solo down the Mississippi River later this year
following in the canoeing footsteps of his uncles who completed the trip many years ago.
In his own words:
We are all familiar with the phrase, “Everything Flows Downstream.” One large and complicating factor of many coastal problems is the fact that they do not begin at the beach. In order to solve any problem, one must first identify the source. I am in the process of composing a water quality expedition that reaches into the heart of America. In 1966, two of my uncles embarked upon a journey that took them from central Illinois to New Orleans on the Mississippi River via canoe. As I near graduation from UCSD, it is my intention to travel in their wake. I am searching for the discovery and adventure they found, but I am also seeking to preserve similar opportunities for future generations. The condition of the Mississippi River represents many issues that currently affect the health of America’s heart and soul. If the Midwest is the Heartland, the Mississippi River is its pulse and primary vessel. Since many symptoms take time to develop, the gradual decline of water quality is usually only noticed when it’s too late. Without a doubt, the health of the ocean is greatly impacted by this mighty river; the Mississippi drainage basin is the third largest in the world and the Gulf of Mexico is paying the price for the years of damage done. Exorbitant levels of fertilizers are causing eutrophication which has created a dead zone (hypoxic-state) in the Gulf that currently occupies over 20,000 square kilometers. Also, non–point sources of chemical discharge and urban run-off levels into the Mississippi River are at an all time high. Although these water quality concerns can be found worldwide, the symbolic image of the Mississippi River creates an opportunity for all to relate. This summer I will paddle the same 17-foot aluminum canoe used by my uncles down the Mississippi with the intention to promote water quality awareness at the heart of the problem. We all have a karmic connection with the water, so doing this only seems right, because eventually it all comes flowing back to you.