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Tale of Two Rivers: Contrasting Development and Conservation on the Upper Mississippi and Lower Missouri Rivers

Presentation by Hydrologist Robb Jacobson, PhD

NOTE – this month the venue has changed! See below for details!

Robb Jacobson will discuss the engineering of both Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and their differences.

Time and Place

Tuesday, July 11, 2023
7:00 pm

This Month's Location - Shakespeare's South
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Presentation by Hydrologist Robb Jacobson, Chief of River Studies Branch, U.S. Geological Survey

NOTE – Last minute venue change! We have switched to the Dodge Room at Shakespeare’s South. See below for directions! 

Tuesday, July 11th, 2023

You are welcome to come early to order some pizza and drinks before the presentation! 

Hosted by Missouri River Relief 

Development trajectories of the Upper Mississippi and Lower Missouri Rivers were similar until the 1920’s when implementation of diesel towboats motivated improvements to navigation on both rivers. River slope and sediment supply determined the critical difference: locks and dams were constructed to create a series of navigation pools on Upper Mississippi River whereas the steep gradient and high sediment supply on the Missouri River prevented implementation of locks and dams, and instead motivated construction of a self-dredging navigation channel.

The result was an expansion of biophysical and recreational capacity of the Upper Mississippi and a contraction on the Missouri.  Subsequently, conservation objectives on the Upper Mississippi have been broadly defined by provision of diverse habitats whereas efforts on the Lower Missouri have been reductionist, eventually focusing on critical life-stage transitions of a single species, the pallid sturgeon.

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Dr. Robert B. Jacobson received his Ph.D. from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, and he holds an undergraduate degree in Geology from Carleton College. He has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey since 1983 in geologic hazards, neotectonics, paleoseismology, geomorphology, surficial processes and riverine habitat dynamics. He is the Chief of the River Studies Branch, where he supervises a staff of ecologists, fish biologists, geomorphologists and hydrologists engaged in interdisciplinary research in fundamental river processes, applied to pressing river management decisions.


  • 3911 Peachtree Dr. Columbia, MO, 65203
  • From I-70, take exit 126 South on Providence Rd.
  • Head south on Providence Rd. 4.7 miles to Grindstone Pkwy/Nifong Blvd.
  • Head west (left) on Nifong, then take a left on Peachtree Dr. Shakespeare’s South will be on your right.

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The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport

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Special Thanks to Shakespeare’s Pizza South for sharing their venue with us! Happy 50th Birthday Shakes!

All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place in St. Charles.

The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.