The purpose of the study is to develop and analyze alternatives addressing these sedimentation, erosion and degradation of culturally significant habitat on Prairie Island Indian Community’s tribal land in Sturgeon Lake. Following a planning process typical for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feasibility studies, measures to address these issues are being developed and evaluated. Priority objectives to address include: (1) reducing shoreline erosion on the Buffalo Slough Island; (2) improving/restoring floodplain forest habitat on Buffalo Slough Island and other areas in upper Sturgeon Lake; (3) improving vegetated aquatic habitat in upper Sturgeon Lake; and (4) wild rice stand improvement.
The Prairie Island Indian Community is located in Pool 3 of the Mississippi River about 12 miles southeast of Hastings, Minnesota. Lands owned by the tribe include islands within and surrounding Sturgeon Lake, a backwater lake on the western side of the navigation channel of the Mississippi River.
During past work with the Prairie Island Indian Community, they expressed an interest in working to protect islands and improve habitat there, especially at the upper end of Sturgeon Lake. One island in particular, bordering Buffalo Slough, has been eroding and could benefit from shoreline stabilization. Furthermore, there are opportunities for improving the shallow aquatic area on the eastern side of that island. The tribe currently has a wild rice restoration program, and there are opportunities for expanding this work in upper Sturgeon Lake.
Sturgeon Lake is a relatively large area of moderate quality habitat. A high rate of sedimentation coupled with recent increases in flow have impacted bathymetric diversity and vegetation growth. Furthermore, higher flows and wave action have increased shoreline erosion rates, especially on the long island bordering Buffalo Slough.
A feasibility cost share agreement was executed on October 1, 2018, which initiated a study to analyze alternatives that will lead to ecosystem restoration to tribal lands in Sturgeon Lake. The feasibility study is expected to be complete at the end of fiscal year 2020.
The Tribal Partnership Program is authorized by Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (Public Law 106‒541), as amended. The Tribal Partnership Program provides authority for the Corps, in cooperation with Indian nations, to study and determine the feasibility of carrying out projects that will substantially benefit Indian nations.
This feasibility study is estimated to cost $350,000. Feasibility studies cost share agreements qualify for a cost share waiver of up to $484,000 for the study and cost share of 65/35 and a separate waiver of up to $484,000 for design and implementation of the project.