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UMRR Program - IL, IA, MO, MN, WI - Beaver Island Habitat Rehabilitation & Enhancement Project, Pool 14

Published March 11, 2020

Location

Pool 14, Upper Mississippi River Miles 517.0-513.0, Clinton County, Iowa.

Description

Beaver Island Project (Project) is located along the right descending bank of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) in the southern portion of Clinton County, Iowa. Lock and Dam 13 is located 5 miles upstream of the island system. The Project lands, part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, are federally-owned. 

The Project area is comprised of 1,678 acres of interconnected backwaters, secondary channels, wetlands and floodplain habitat.  

The goals are to restore and protect aquatic, wetland, and floodplain forest habitats.  The objectives identified to meet these goals are (1) increase year-around aquatic habitat diversity and native fish use of spawning, rearing and overwintering habitat; (2) diversify floodplain forest habitat; (3) increase structure and function of side channel habitat.

Project Features:

• Excavate channels in backwater areas

• Construct elevated berms using excavated channel material

• Plant hard mast producing trees on the elevated berms

• Use timber stand improvement techniques

• Place a rock closure structure on the island’s upstream end

• Construct a chevron, place bank protection, and provide mussel substrate at Albany Island

The Recommended Plan would restore backwater habitat by excavating backwater channels to a depth of 8 feet or more below flat pool to provide overwinter and year-around habitat for fish. Excavated material will be used to construct land berms to enhance topographic diversity.  The land berms will be planted with native floodplain forest vegetation and trees. Other timber stand improvement actions will also occur such as tree release, girdling and interspersed tree plantings.  A rock closure structure will be constructed at the entrance to Upper Cut on Beaver Island’s upstream end to reduce overwintering water velocities and sediment deposition.

Background

Human activity, such as channel manipulation for navigation purposes, over the past two centuries within the UMR basin, floodplain and channel has altered the hydrology, topography and biotic communities present in the Project area.  These alterations have reduced the diversity and quality of aquatic habitat, reduced the acreage and diversity of the native floodplain forest and reduced the acreage and diversity of isolated ephemeral wetlands.  While these stressors are likely to continue, as will the decline of the quality of aquatic, wetland and floodplain habitat, this Project provides an opportunity to improve the quality and diversity of critical habitats.  

The need for the project is based on the following factors: 

1. The existing aquatic habitat currently lacks adequate centrarchid overwintering habitat (i.e., depth and flow) important for year-round habitat functioning. Without action, the available overwintering habitat will continue to decrease.

2. The existing topography lacks floodplain forest diversity and a significant amount of the island is inundated during a typical flooding event. Consequently, floodplain forest regeneration, growth and survival are reduced. Without action, floodplain habitat will decrease in quality through succession to silver maple, open canopy and/or reed canary grass, which is an invasive species.

3. Albany Slough, the existing secondary channel habitat, has degrading geomorphologic features, structure, and function. Over time, Albany Island is likely to continue eroding, which would have major detrimental effects on existing mussel communities inhabiting the Albany Slough and on the fish species which serve as hosts.

Status

The feasibility report was approved in June 2017.  The Stage IB construction contract was awarded January 4, 2019 and is scheduled to be completed by November 2022.

Additional Information

Congressional Districts

Senators: Charles Grassley (IA), Joni Ernst (IA)

Representatives: IA-1 (Abby Finkenauer)

Authority

CG - Construction General

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost    $25,288,000
Estimated Non-Federal Cost  $0
Estimated Total Project Cost  $25,288,000
Allocations Prior to FY 2020  $15,948,703
FY 2020 Allocation  $520,000
FY 2020 Total Capability  $520,000

 

Major Work Item Current Year
FY 2020:  Funds are being used to continue Stage IB construction of Beaver Island HERP.  During construction monitoring will be applied using active adaptive management principals to help design future HREPs.