Pigs Eye Lake Restoration Project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, in partnership with Minnesota's Ramsey County, are working to enhance and restore environmental habitat within Pigs Eye Lake, a Mississippi River backwater area a few miles downstream of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Pigs Eye Lake Environmental Restoration timeline

Visual timeline toward project completion


Pool 8 island construction

Pool 8 island construction

Pigs Eye Lake

Man looks at Pigs Eye Lake

Project benefits

Pigs Eye Lake is a 628-acre shallow, backwater lake situated southeast of St. Paul within an area known as Mississippi River's Pool 2. The features of the Pigs Eye Lake restoration project include:

  • Six islands constructed within the lake
  • Sand benches
  • Marsh habitat
  • Terrestrial plantings

The project was designed in partnership with the Ramsey County and includes features to improve both the aquatic and terrestrial habitat, while also maintaining the Pigs Eye Lake shoreline. Funding for this project was made available through the Corps of Engineers’ civil works program and Ramsey County via the Conservation Partners Legacy Grant Program and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. 

Island building process

Building islands is a process. One that we have a great deal of experience with as a lead agency with the Upper Mississippi River Restoration program. In this role, the St. Paul District has built more than 40,000 acres of habitat within our district along the Mississippi River since the projects inception in 1986.

To build islands, we begin by placing granular material via hydraulic placement. We then place fine material on top of the granular islands via construction equipment. This layer serves as the foundation for vegetation. Once the layer of fine material is placed on an island, we place rocks around the island to armor it against wave action. The last step in the construction process is to plant flood-tolerant vegetation.

Where does the material come from?
Most of the material that we will use to build the Pigs Eye Lake islands is coming from our Pine Bend Island River Sand Placement Site. We place our river sand, or dredged material removed from the Mississippi River 9-foot navigation channel at sites like this while dredging. We then look to beneficially reuse the material for a variety of applications such as habitat construction, general purpose construction fill and winter road maintenance. The river sand is routinely tested and meets all applicable human health standards.

We currently plan on using approximately 400,000 cubic yards of river sand to construct the habitat features within Pigs Eye Lake.