WisBusiness.com: La Crosse hosts river conference

By Gregg Hoffmann

A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and several experts in the study of rivers will headline the International Conference on Rivers and Civilization at the La Crosse Center starting Sunday.

The keynote speaker is Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California at Los Angeles and winner of a Pulitzer Prize for his book, “Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies.” He will talk at 7 p.m. Sunday.

At least 400 people from around the world are set to attend the conference. It is the third in a series of world meetings on rivers, following a 2002 one at Dubna University, along the Volga in Russia; and a second in 2003 at Assiut University, on the Nile in Egypt.

Speakers and session leaders are coming from several countries and include academics, river managers and ecologists, business leaders, writers, musicians, artists, politicians, river experts, recreational interests, wildlife managers, transportation experts and others to focus on contemporary issues related to major river basins.

The public is invited to both the Sunday night keynote speaker session and sessions Tuesday afternoon.

Public sessions on Tuesday include:

1:15 to 3 p.m. — Topical, concurrent sessions on the Mississippi-Mekong Partnership, Waters of Wisconsin, Restoration of Historical River Front, Historical Ecology, Ecosystem Restoration on the Mississippi, Public Involvement in River Management and more.

3 to 6 p.m. — Regional artists’ artwork and photography featuring river themes. The Lewis and Clark exhibit from the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium will be one of many agency, organization and museum exhibits.

7 to 8:45 p.m. — Native American Story Telling. Joe Campbell, Dakota elder and cultural educator, will engage the audience with his stories.

A tour of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, will be held Saturday.