July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 56

Park Bench
The Bison Bridge concept
would enable wildlife to roam
freely across Interstate 80 and
above the Mississippi River.
Environmentalist Pitches Bison Bridge
for Interstate 80 Crossing
As one of the nation's river cleanup champions, Chad Pregracke now is floating a new idea - turning the Interstate 80 (I-80)
Mississippi River into a Bison Bridge where wildlife can roam freely and visitors can enjoy panoramic views.
Pregracke, president and founder of Living Lands and Waters (LLW), is pitching the idea of repurposing the bridge's span into
separate wildlife and pedestrian crossings. The concept - a couple years in the making - is being promoted as transportation leaders
study plans for replacing the 55-year-old infrastructure.
The interstate bridge, now named Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge, connects the states of Illinois and Iowa.
For Pregracke, who first earned national acclaim for his one-man Mississippi River cleanups, the Bison Bridge represents a means
of putting his hometown Quad Cities " on the map " with a one-of-a-kind tourism attraction.
" It will be an iconic stop on Interstate 80 to the 42,000 people who cross it each day, " says Pregracke, whose environmental leadership
earned him a CNN Hero award in 2013.
Under the plan, the bridge's westbound lanes would be retrofitted into a crossing for wildlife, including a small herd of American
bison that the foundation plans to steward. The eastbound lanes would be converted into a pedestrian viewing area and park complete
with a visitor's center and recreational path. By maintaining two spans, visitors to the park could be safely distanced from the wildlife.
" This would be the longest wildlife bridge in the world, " says Pregracke, who sees the idea as " a game changer " and a potential
economic development driver for the Quad Cities region.
The long-term goal would be for Bison Bridge to eventually become part of the National Parks system. It is the latest project for
Pregracke and LLW, which, since 1998, has removed almost 11 million pounds of debris from the nation's waterways. With the
added help of some 118,000 volunteers in communities across the country, the LLW team has helped clean up 24 rivers in 21 states.
Bison Bridge is a plan that Pregracke and a talented group of advocates have been quietly presenting for more than two years
to key decision-makers. The Bison Bridge Foundation comprises a cross-section of organizations and leaders from multiple states
representing the nonprofit, transportation, tourism, economic development, wildlife management and conservation sectors.
In March, Pregracke and the foundation unveiled the concept during a live, virtual event aired from the Quad Cities. As part of
the reveal, the foundation launched a signature campaign to garner more support. As of May, the group has collected nearly 30,000
signatures - well on its way toward reaching its goal of 50,000 signatures.
Pregracke plans to present the signatures to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which has the responsibility for the study,
design and construction of a new replacement bridge with support from the Federal Highways Administration and the Iowa Department
of Transportation. The existing I-80 bridge was completed in 1966 and is between LeClaire, Iowa, and Rapids City, Illinois.
As possible alternatives - including a new alignment - emerge for a new bridge, the foundation hopes to make its case for transforming
the old span into Bison Bridge.
- Jennifer DeWitt, Freelance Writer
56 Parks & Recreation | JULY 2 0 2 1
| PARK S ANDRECRE AT ION . OR G
PHOTO COURTESY OF STREAMLINE ARCHITECTS

July 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2021 - Parks & Recreation

July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 4
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 5
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 6
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 7
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July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 9
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 10
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 11
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July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 16
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 17
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 18
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 19
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 20
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 21
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July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 28
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July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 37
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July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 55
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 56
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
July 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
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