Much of the floodplain forest in the Reno Bottoms project area has been declining in coverage over the past several decades. Current Pool 9 water management and flow through the Lock and Dam 8 embankment have shifted the floodplain forest distribution to higher elevations than pre-impoundment conditions. Without active management, floodplain forest in the Reno Bottoms project area is likely to continue to degrade and lead to the following conditions: increased coverage and dominance of reed canary grass, increased loss of tree and other native plant species diversity, increased loss of forest structural and age class diversity, loss of forested land cover, increase in floodplain forest habitat fragmentation, decrease in floodplain forest habitat connectivity, decrease in amount of floodplain forest interior habitat, and an increase in cumulative adverse impacts on forest-dependent wildlife species.
The 14,000 acre Reno Bottoms area is located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (refuge) in Houston County, Minnesota and Allamakee County, Iowa and is in Pool 9 between river miles 671‒682. The area is bounded on the west by the Canadian Pacific railroad, on the east by the main Mississippi River navigation channel, on the north by the Lock and Dam 8 dike and on the south by the Upper Iowa River. The closest communities to the project area are New Albin, Iowa and Reno, Minnesota.
The proposed project goals include protecting, maintaining and restoring floodplain hardwood forests to levels that are sustainable. Possible features could include, understory plantings, timber stand improvements, elevation modifications, aquatic dredging, channel manipulation and spillway modifications to improve connectivity.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the planning phase in fiscal year 2019 and will complete a draft report in fiscal year 2022.
Congress originally authorized the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program in Section 1103 of the 1986 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (Public Law 99‒662), codified at 33 U.S.C. § 652. Congress reauthorized the UMRR Program in WRDA 1999 (Public Law 106‒53).
The Corps will plan and design the project as part of a cooperative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Minnesota and Iowa Departments of Natural Resources and local interests.
Project design and construction costs will be 100 percent federal because the project is located on lands managed as a national wildlife refuge. Operation and maintenance costs will be 100 percent federal, a responsibility of the USFWS.
Funding to Date $793,000
Estimated Total Project Cost $6,300,000