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Corps celebrates two restoration projects on the Upper Mississippi River

Posted on July 14, 2022

Story by Melanie Peterson

The St. Paul District, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, celebrated Earth Day with a ribbon cutting for two of its habitat restoration projects: Harpers Slough and Conway Lake. Both projects are part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration, or UMRR program.

The $5.3 million Conway Lake project, just upstream of Highway 82 on the Mississippi River included the construction of flood- plain forests and berms created from main channel dredging stockpiles. The project enhanced habitat, improved dissolved ox- ygen in Conway Lake and improved winter habitat conditions. This project restored 1,170 acres of aquatic and floodplain forest habitat.

The $2.4 million Harper Slough project, just upstream of Lock and Dam 9, near Lynxville, Wisconsin, protects existing islands and constructed additional islands using material from the backwater and main channel. The project will slow the loss of existing islands, reduce the flow of sediment-laden water into the backwaters, reduce turbidity and increase the

diversity of land and shoreline habitats. Habitat restoration work was completed in 2017, however record flooding in 2018 and 2019 caused erosion and prevented the islands from establishing vegetation. The project restored 1,680 acres of aquatic and island habitat.

“When you are on the ground locally, you get it. It’s very clear the cultural, ecological and eco- nomic significance of the river and how we coexist to achieve a lot of things. You can feel why it is important to continue to be good stewards of the environment in this area,” said Col. Karl Jansen, St. Paul District commander. “This is a terrific program when you look nationwide at things that work well and deliver tremendous results at a value to the taxpay- ers. The program is 36 years old and has delivered 55 projects form Minneapolis to St. Louis and restored 100,000 acres of flood- plain.”

Sabrina Chandler, refuge manager for the Upper Mississippi Wild- life Refuge, said in her remarks, “It’s a benefit for us to be part of this program, we tremendously

value the partnerships that come from the program and especially the relationships in the communi- ty that are built through the contractors and the establishment and the use of these projects.”

These projects were made pos- sible through funding from the

UMRR program. This program ensures the coordinated development and enhancement of the Upper Mississippi River system with primary emphasis on habitat restoration projects and resource monitoring.

Col. Karl Jansen, district commander, and partners, cut the ribbon for the Harpers Slough and Conway Lake restoration projects, April 22 in Lansing, Iowa. USACE photo by Melanie Peterson

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