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St. Paul District
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St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 290-5807
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Environmental Management Program reaches 25 years

Published Feb. 15, 2012
Walking on water? Not quite. One aspect of the Corps of Engineers not often seen is our Environmental Management Program. Here, a bulldozer moves dredge material to create islands in the Mississippi River. Specifically, the Capoli Slough Habitat Restoration project is located in Pool 9, downstream of Lansing, Iowa, on the Wisconsin side of the river, where erosion from wave action and main channel flows is reducing the size of wetland areas. This has resulted in the loss of aquatic vegetation and the shallow habitats important for the survival of many species of fish and wildlife. The project is broken down into two stages, and consists of creating 12 islands, improving backwater habitat, bank stabilization and other measures to improve the habitability. Once completed, the project will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service for day-to-day management.

Walking on water? Not quite. One aspect of the Corps of Engineers not often seen is our Environmental Management Program. Here, a bulldozer moves dredge material to create islands in the Mississippi River. Specifically, the Capoli Slough Habitat Restoration project is located in Pool 9, downstream of Lansing, Iowa, on the Wisconsin side of the river, where erosion from wave action and main channel flows is reducing the size of wetland areas. This has resulted in the loss of aquatic vegetation and the shallow habitats important for the survival of many species of fish and wildlife. The project is broken down into two stages, and consists of creating 12 islands, improving backwater habitat, bank stabilization and other measures to improve the habitability. Once completed, the project will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service for day-to-day management.

St. Paul District Corps staff meet with the contractor and project partners Aug. 11, 2015, during the weekly progress meeting for the Harper’s Slough project. The Harper’s Slough Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, was planned and designed under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. It will protect five existing islands and construct an additional seven islands using material from the backwater and main channel. The program emphasizes habitat rehabilitation and enhancement projects and long-term resource monitoring. Project component includes dredging backwater areas and channels, constructing dikes, creating and stabilizing islands and controlling side channel flows and water levels. Once the project is completed, the project will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who manages the refuge.

St. Paul District Corps staff meet with the contractor and project partners Aug. 11, 2015, during the weekly progress meeting for the Harper’s Slough project. The Harper’s Slough Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, was planned and designed under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. It will protect five existing islands and construct an additional seven islands using material from the backwater and main channel. The program emphasizes habitat rehabilitation and enhancement projects and long-term resource monitoring. Project component includes dredging backwater areas and channels, constructing dikes, creating and stabilizing islands and controlling side channel flows and water levels. Once the project is completed, the project will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who manages the refuge.

District staff gathered near Brownsville, Minn., Aug. 30, to highlight and dedicate the completion of a 3,000-acre environmental project along the Mississippi River in Pool 8. Completed as a cooperative effort among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources and the public; the Pool 8 project is part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration - Environmental Management Program.

District staff gathered near Brownsville, Minn., Aug. 30, to highlight and dedicate the completion of a 3,000-acre environmental project along the Mississippi River in Pool 8. Completed as a cooperative effort among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources and the public; the Pool 8 project is part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration - Environmental Management Program.

Resident engineer Scott Baker, center, talks with the contractor and project partners Aug. 11, 2015, during the weekly progress meeting for the Harper’s Slough project. The Harper’s Slough Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, was planned and designed under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. It will protect five existing islands and construct an additional seven islands using material from the backwater and main channel. The program emphasizes habitat rehabilitation and enhancement projects and long-term resource monitoring. Project component includes dredging backwater areas and channels, constructing dikes, creating and stabilizing islands and controlling side channel flows and water levels. Once the project is completed, the project will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who manages the refuge.

Resident engineer Scott Baker, center, talks with the contractor and project partners Aug. 11, 2015, during the weekly progress meeting for the Harper’s Slough project. The Harper’s Slough Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, was planned and designed under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. It will protect five existing islands and construct an additional seven islands using material from the backwater and main channel. The program emphasizes habitat rehabilitation and enhancement projects and long-term resource monitoring. Project component includes dredging backwater areas and channels, constructing dikes, creating and stabilizing islands and controlling side channel flows and water levels. Once the project is completed, the project will be turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who manages the refuge.

LANSING, Iowa -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District and its federal, state and local partners are in the process of building islands within the Mississippi River near Lansing, Iowa. 

The program is a part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, also known as the Environmental Management Program. Created in 1986, the program has restored more than 50,000 acres of habitat within the St. Paul District.

LANSING, Iowa -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District and its federal, state and local partners are in the process of building islands within the Mississippi River near Lansing, Iowa. The program is a part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, also known as the Environmental Management Program. Created in 1986, the program has restored more than 50,000 acres of habitat within the St. Paul District.

The Pool 8 Islands construction project on the Upper Mississippi River near Brownsville, Minn., is scheduled for completion this summer and the first stage of construction at Capoli Slough, downstream of Lansing, Iowa, is scheduled to start this spring. Both projects are part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program, known as the EMP.

These projects illustrate the success of the program during the past 25 years and envision the continued success for the future, said Don Powell, retired EMP program manager. 

The EMP was created when the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 was passed by Congress. More than 54 projects have been completed and 15 more are in the design phase or under construction across the region. The EMP has benefitted approximately 100,000 acres of aquatic and floodplain habitat. These projects span across five states: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois. They also includes the Corps’ St. Paul, Rock Island and St. Louis districts in addition to the many partners such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Geological Survey, five state natural resource agencies, non-governmental organizations and the public. 

“The EMP is unique because it was the first program in the nation to combine ecosystem restoration with scientific monitoring and research efforts on a large river system,” said Tom Novak, project management and district EMP manager. 

The habitat rehabilitation and enhancement project component focuses on restoring or creating natural aquatic and floodplain habitat through techniques such as shoreline protection, island building, flow modifications, and backwater dredging. The long term resource monitoring component focuses on data gathering, analysis and information dissemination to enhance understanding of river system functions and provide tools for river management actions and policy decisions. Through data already collected, the EMP monitoring database is one of the most extensive and comprehensive data sets of any large river system in the world, said Powell. The EMP infrastructure has provided a model used by others in the United States and around the world.

During the past 25 years, the district has completed more than 25 EMP projects, resulting in approximately 40,000 acres of aquatic and floodplain habitat, said Novak.