There are different segments of the Mississippi such as the headwaters area, which is 500 miles through a marshy area that gradually widens into a rockier area. The only gorge is a passage in the twin cities below the falls of St Anthony. Then there is upper Mississippi which is 950 miles with large limestone bluffs. The valley along the river is 6600 feet in Prescott, WI and 31.680 feet in Trempealeau, WI. Then there is the middle Mississippi and the lower Mississippi that begins in Cairo, Illinois and ends in the Gulf of Mexico. It is a 1000 mile segment of subtropical swamps and forests with a delta at the edge of the gulf built over 7000 years. The Mississippi is very polluted with many chemicals and toxins such as Nitrates, Arsenic, Benzene, and Mercury. This was recorded in 2010. Some of the toxins in the Mississippi cause cancer, reproductive disorders and sometimes even developmental delays and ruins the environment. The Mississippi is the second most polluted waterway in the U.S. below the Ohio River. The journey of the Mississippi is fairly long running through about 10 states and having many areas protected and having different segments as well. The Mississippi runs through ten states including Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. 466 miles of the Mississippi is protected from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. That is the longest stretch of protected river in the U.S. Tourists are attracted to this area because of the pristine water quality and the mix of southern and northern vegetation as well as a variety of species that live along the Mississippi. The Mississippi River has a variety of species of fish. It also has a variety of plants as well as mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. There are many trees around the Mississippi area such as Silver maple, which is most common, birch, bur oak, green ash, hackberry, cottonwood, and swamp white oak. There are many species of fish as well and the most common are the walleye, sauger, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. There are so many mammals like Louisiana black bears, minks, muskrat, beavers, and by the delta of the Mississippi, there are armadillos foxes, bobcats, and coyotes and feral hogs. The vegetation around the Mississippi River varies from trees to shrubs to berries as well as invasive species in the river and around it. There are many trees around the Mississippi area such as Silver Maple, which is most common, Birch, Bur Oak, Green Ash, Huckleberry, Cottonwood, and Swamp White Oak. There are invasive species of trees and other vegetation such as Black Locust, Exotic Bush Honeysuckle, and many more.The locks of the Mississippi are very important for traveling, tourist attractions, and selling on the Mississippi river. The locks on the Mississippi lower and raise boats, ships, and other vehicles that travel on water. If the land around the Mississippi is not level they use locks to help the boats get up or down the unleveled water/land. The locks of the mississippi raise the boats, ships, and ferries up or down so that they can continue on their journey along the river. The locks are very important and that is why there is so many of them. The locks are the key to navigating and getting through the mississippi river. A lock is a place in a river or canal where a boat goes into and a barrier comes down. Now the boats is closed in on all sides. Then a gap is opened in which then it drains all of the water until it is level with the part they are trying to get down to on the river. If they are trying to get up the river reverse this process. They close the boat in, Then they ADD water level to the point they are trying to get up to, the barrier ges down, and then they sail on up or down the river.The Mississippi river is used in many ways from water to recreation. It can be used anywhere along it or near it. Communities along the mississippi river use the mississippi’s water for getting rid of industrial waste and to get freshwater. In 2000 a study was made on the mississippi and their results were that 15 million people rely on the Mississippi or its tributaries. 50 cities rely on the mississippi for water supplies. Shipping on the mississippi is another use for the river as they ship 60% of all grains imported in the U.S. are shipped in the port of new orleans and the port of south louisiana. The largest port district in the world is on the mississippi river delta. Shipping on the lower end mostly ships edible oils, wood, rubber, coffee, coal, chemicals, steel, iron, paper, and grains.The shape of the Mississippi River is a mature or old river which has meanders. The mississippi river has quite a few meanders and is definitely not young. It is 2350 miles. The narrowest part is 20-30 feet wide. The widest area of the river is about 11 miles. There are many tributaries and five major tributaries are big black river in mississippi, red river in louisiana, white river in arkansas, arkansas river in arkansas, and the ohio river in illinois and kentucky.