Stewards of the Upper
Mississippi River Refuge (SUMRR), is non-profit organization dedicated
to: environmental education, creating quality wildlife habitat and
enhancing the public’s understanding and enjoyment of the Upper
Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center
In 2000, the Ingersoll Wetlands Learning Center opened
its doors to promote environmental education and the conservation of
the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Visitors come from many
parts of America and foreign countries just to view the Mississippi
River and its wildlife. This gives us a great opportunity to share the
refuge story and to encourage support for the Refuge System.
Conveniently located within the Upper Mississippi River
National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the facility is packed with
interesting, hands-on exhibits and provides a dramatic view of the
world’s most majestic and celebrated river.
The Center sits on 35 acres of sand prairie that is home
to the ornate box turtle, prickly pear cactus and a diversity of other
plants and animals. Visitors can walk or bike the Grand Illinois Trail that traverses through the prairie and along Spring Lake. There are
many opportunities for photographers to get that special picture of a
bald eagle, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, or the prickly pear cactus.
No matter what your interest is, there is something for you to see and
The Stewards operate a bookstore that is filled with an
excellent selection of children’s books, field guides and unique gifts.
Click on the Gift Store tab for more information.
The Center is dedicated to the memory of Gary
and David Ingersoll, young residents of Savanna who were stricken with
muscular dystrophy. Although confined to wheelchairs most of their
young lives, the two overcame day-to-day challenges and attended
college, where they demonstrated their mutual interest in natural
resource conservation. Tragically, both young men died of the disease
before the age of 22. The center was named in their honor and continues
to promote their ideals of environmental education and conservation of
the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00
p.m. Monday through Friday. The center is closed on federal holidays.
Starting in mid May through September, the center will be open on
Saturdays from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge -- the nation's first sanctuary for fish -- owes its existence to the
avid fisherman, founder and leader of the Izaak Walton League, Will
Dilg. In 1922, For nearly two decades, Dilg had spent much of the summer
fishing and enjoying the Upper Mississippi River. In the summer of
1923, he learned of a plan to drain a large portion of the river
backwaters and came up with an ambitious solution to the drainage
scheme: turn the entire stretch of river into a federal refuge.
Remarkably, one year later, due
to Dilg’s determination, Congress passed the Upper Mississippi River
Wild Life and Fish Refuge Act on June 7, 1924. The act authorized the
acquisition of land for a refuge between Rock Island, Illinois and
Wabasha, Minnesota. The Refuge name was changed administratively to the
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in 1983. The
261-mile refuge is the longest, contiguous river refuge in the
continental U.S. The refuge begins at the confluence of the Chippewa
River near Wabasha, Minnesota, and ends near Princeton, Iowa. The refuge
lies within four states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. The
river was free-flowing until a series of locks and dams were
constructed in the 1930s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Over half
of the lands managed by the refuge are owned by the Corps. Today, nearly
240,000 acres of wooded islands, marshes, and backwaters comprise the
Upper Miss Refuge. The refuge provides migratory habitat for a large
percentage of the migratory birds in the Mississippi Flyway. Tundra
swans and canvasback ducks use the refuge as a resting and feeding area
in the spring and fall. From the beginning, the refuge has been a
place for visitors to renew themselves. A quiet trip to the backwaters,
camping on an island, fishing a favorite spot and waterfowl hunting are
traditional uses and have continued for over eighty years.