Habitat Restoration: Mississippi River, Harpers Slough, Pool 9, Iowa

Updated March 2017
Published Feb. 26, 2015


Part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, the Harpers Slough area is a 4,150-acre backwater area located primarily on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River in Pool 9, about 3 miles upstream of Lock and Dam 9. The site is in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The area is used heavily by tundra swans, Canada geese, puddle and diving ducks, black terns, nesting eagles, bitterns and cormorants and is also significant as a fish nursery area. Many of the islands in the area have been eroded or lost because of wave action and ice movement. The loss of islands allows more turbulence in the backwater area, resulting in less productive habitat for fish and wildlife.



The proposed project will protect five existing islands and construct an additional seven islands using material from the backwater and main channel. The project will slow the loss of existing islands, reduce the flow of sediment-laden water into the backwaters, reduce turbidity and increase the diversity of land and shoreline habitat.





A single construction contract was awarded in September 2014 and the remaining options exercised in October 2014 for a total construction cost of $11.9 million.  The contractor began constructing islands in spring 2015.  The work will be completed in 2017.




The Harpers Slough Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project was planned and designed under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. This program was authorized by Section 1103 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and reauthorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1999.



The project is being constructed as part of a cooperative effort of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Iowa and Wisconsin 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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Total estimated cost: $14.00 million
Funds allocated through FY 2016: $13.25 million