The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, recently awarded a nearly $12 million contract to Newt Marine Services of Dubuque, Iowa, to restore habitat within the Mississippi River Pool 9.
The Harpers Slough Islands habitat restoration project, located 8 miles south of Lansing, Iowa, is an effort to restore habitat by protecting eroded islands and constructing new islands where they were once located. The loss of islands allows more wave action in the backwaters, which uproots plants and keeps sediment suspended. The sediment decreases the water clarity and the amount of sunlight that penetrates the water, which results in diminished plant growth.
The project involves building seven islands to restore and protect existing islands, five rock sills and two rock mounds. The contractor will dredge areas near the islands and the main river channel in order to get the material needed. Construction will start next spring and should be completed in the fall 2019. Because many construction vessels will be used for the project, extreme caution should be exercised when boating in the area.
The Harpers Slough Islands project was planned and designed as a cooperative effort between the Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the states of Iowa and Wisconsin.
This project is funded under authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Environmental Management Program. The program is intended to ensure the coordinated development and enhancement of the Upper Mississippi River system with primary emphasis on habitat restoration projects and resource monitoring.
In the 27-year history of the program, more than 55 habitat projects benefiting approximately 100,000 acres on the Upper Mississippi River, from Minneapolis to St. Louis, have been completed.