Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program: Robinson Lake, Pool 4, Minnesota - Habitat Restoration

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published April 15, 2024
Updated: April 15, 2024


Sedimentation of the backwater lakes is an ongoing issue in the upper Mississippi River, including the lower Pool 4 area. Potential sources of sand are the Chippewa River, historic channel maintenance dredging side-cast islands and the four active temporary placement sites within the study area. The extent of open water has been shrinking in Robinson Lake.


The project area consists of open backwater, meandered side channels, main channel border, and island formations in the Mississippi River in lower Pool 4 (River Miles 759 to 756). The site is in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge near Wabasha, Minnesota.


The proposed project goal is to maintain, enhance, and create habitat suitable for native and desirable, aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. The Robinson Lake area has lost bathymetric diversity, floodplain forest patch size, connectivity, and interior forest habitat over time. Island creation/enhancement and dredging would be the primary tools used to counter-act the losses. Increasing wild celery beds and perennial emergent vegetation would also be a goal within the lake to increase opportunities for migratory waterfowl.

The project seeks to protect, enhance, restore, or create backwater and flowing channel habitats that provide diverse flow conditions and sediment dynamics that will benefit native fish (including migratory species) and mussel populations. The project seeks to protect and enhance diverse bottomland forest that will benefit migratory and resident birds and other species. The project also seeks to maintain or increase quantity and diversity of submerged, emergent, and rooted floating leaved vegetation.


Project planning began January 2023. The Corps will plan and design the project with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources and local interests. A public meeting was held in summer 2023 in Wabasha, Minnesota. The Corps plans to identify a Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) at the end of 2024 and complete a feasibility study and environmental documents in 2025.


Congress originally authorized the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program in Section 1103 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986, Pub L. No. 99-662 (codified as amended at 33 U.S.C. § 652). Section 8345 of WRDA 2022, Pub. L. No. 117-263, increased the authorized program funding to a combined $90 million annually.


Project design and construction costs will be 100% federally funded. Operation and maintenance costs are 100% federal and a responsibility of the USFWS.

Federal Funds Allocated to Date                    $447,000