Call for Applications: ReConnecting Big Rivers Project

The Issue

Riverfronts are increasingly valued as public space, but along some large rivers, cities and towns are cut off from their rivers by flood control infrastructure (notably levees), which has been the case along much of the Mississippi since the mid-20th century.  As the river banks historically provided important open space and leisure opportunities for people of all walks of life, cutting them off represents a significant impact on recreational opportunities for many in society, notably disadvantaged residents.  Flood control structures have cut people off from what is arguably the most important landscape feature in their region.  

In the ReConnecting with Big Rivers project, two faculty and five students each from Jackson State University (JSU) and UC Berkeley (UCB) will collaboratively assess sites along the Mississippi currently with public access, some of the riverfront without public access, and make recommendations for improving public access in light of current land use, flood control constraints, and evolving opportunities.  We will also visit leveed sites along the Sacramento River and Delta to see public access in some of these locations, but also to identify limitations in the existing access.  For both rivers, we will develop proposals to improve public access to our big rivers.  The Sacramento River trip will occur May 19-22, 2022, and the Mississippi trip will be Oct 13-16, 2022.

The call is open to all graduate and undergraduate students in LAEP.  Your travel expenses will be covered.  You must commit to participating in both workshops (Sacramento and Mississippi). The collaboration is funded by the LAEP Beatrix Farrand Endowment and UC Berkeley Riverlab. 


Applications (up to 2 pp) should include:

  • Name, SID, program & year. 
  • Brief academic and personal background explaining why you are interested in and motivated to participate in the collaboration, and what relevant background and skills you can contribute to the effort. 
  • Confirm that you commit to attending both workshops. (If you are graduating confirm that you will still be able to attend the fall workshop, over a long weekend.)  
  • Indicate whether you can and are willing to drive a rental car (including being >25y) and are willing to pick up and return a rental car at the beginning and end of the site visits.  We’ll need at least two of our participating students to be available to drive a rental car.  
  • Confirm that you will contribute to the deliverables from the project (website, publication). 
  • Indicate if you are interested in serving as the graduate student coordinator for the project deliverables (for which there is a $2500 stipend).  

Applications are due 11pm Thursday 5 May 2022.  Please email your application (as word or pdf attachment) to, with subject line “BigRiversApplication:YOURNAME”.  Applications will be reviewed by the ReConnecting Big Rivers Committee. 

Questions?  Contact Matt Kondolf