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Enterprise gives Nature Conservancy $30 million to help the Mississippi, world rivers

Eads Bridge connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis over the Mississippi River. A new tool from the Environmental Protection Agency allows the public to access information about pollutants released into local waterways.
(via flickr/benclark)
The Eads Bridge connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis over the Mississippi River. A $30 million donation from Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation to the Nature Conservancy will benefit the Mississippi River and other water systems, conservancy leaders said.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation is giving $30 million to the Nature Conservancy to benefit the Mississippi River and other water systems across the globe.

The Routes and Roots: Enterprise Healthy River Project will fund river projects across the U.S., Canada and Europe for five years. It matches the foundation’s previous five-year pledge to the conservancy in 2017.

“Our employees are deeply passionate about this initiative,” Carolyn Kindle, Enterprise Holdings Foundation president, said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the continued progress that this program will have on many of the world’s most vital waterways.”

A portion of the funding will be used to reduce pollutants and address climate change in the Colorado, Mississippi and other rivers, said Adam McLane, Missouri state director of the Nature Conservancy.

“We think about the sustainability of our state long term,” McLane said. “What's going to drive economic growth, what's going to drive jobs, what's going to drive quality of life, water is going to play a huge, huge role in that.”

McLane said the conservancy and its partners have focused on ways to reduce the overabundance of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment that spills into the Mississippi by 20%. That coupled with the climate crisis sparks significant challenges.

“We do have challenges in the nutrient sphere that come both from city environments and from rural communities that are typically in the form of agriculture, farming,” McLane said. “You have big precipitation events, you have drought conditions, you have a variety of different things that are clearly changing around us. And we're operating in that context, trying to protect both people and nature at the same time.”

Conservancy staff members shared proposals with foundation leaders on which environment investments were necessary.

The international funding will support ingenious efforts in Canada to conserve land and water and strengthen fresh watersheds across Europe. McLane said it’s critical to make those investments now.

“These interventions get more expensive the longer we wait to do them,” he said. “So 10 years from now, it's going to be way more expensive to try and correct the challenges that we see coming that we're facing.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.