The St. Louis Engineer District recently awarded a $7.2 million contract to Luhr Brothers Inc. of Columbia, Ill., to construct a Mississippi River habitat restoration project. The project is located in Pool 26, between Upper Mississippi River Miles 207.5 and 211.5 near Grafton, Ill., in Madison and Jersey counties.
Over the past two centuries, conditions in the Upper Mississippi River basin, floodplain and channel have altered the hydrology and biotic communities in the area. These alterations have reduced the diversity and quality of habitat in the side channel and backwater and reduced the acreage of island habitat historically present throughout the area. This project will improve the quality and diversity of important aquatic habitats.
The construction under this contract includes using stone river training structures to deepen the side channel and allow for the formation of new islands in the side channel complex. The work is anticipated to take two years to complete with construction beginning during the summer of 2021.
The project area is located within the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Mississippi River State Fish and Wildlife Area, specifically the Piasa Island Wildlife Management Area. The Mississippi River Area’s main emphasis is wetland management with waterfowl as the primary species of concern.
Piasa and Eagle’s Nest islands are locally recognized as public use areas for hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing. Several organizations, including the Migratory Waterfowl Hunters Inc., Alton Motorboat Club, Alton Water Ski Club, Piasa Palisades Group of the Sierra Club and Illinois Federation for Outdoor Resources are active within the project area.
UMR Restoration Program
The project is funded under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, which is intended to ensure the coordinated development and enhancement of the Upper Mississippi River system with emphasis on habitat restoration projects and resource monitoring. The Corps’ partner on this project is the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. In the 35-plus-year history of the program, more than 55 habitat projects benefiting approximately 100,000 acres on the Upper Mississippi River, from the Twin Cities to St. Louis, have been completed. These projects provide critical habitat for riverine species, supporting the ecosystem’s overall health and resilience.
Caption for photo (click on photo for full image): Piasa Island project location map.