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.