Efforts to Improve Mississippi River Water Quality Pay Off

Long-term monitoring by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows that the efforts to improve Mississippi River water quality appear to be paying off with the return of several important fish and aquatic plant species to at least one major pool.

The latest results come as the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program celebrates 30 years of large river ecosystem restoration, intensive monitoring and research on the Upper Mississippi.

Program leaders, partners and stakeholders will gather from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Riverside Park in La Crosse on August 8 to mark the multi-state achievements, including the rehabilitation of more than 100,000 acres of important fish and wildlife habitat.

Wisconsin DNR’s role has involved support for more than 19 major construction projects including work on the Capoli Slough, a cooperative project involving DNR, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The project protected 10 existing islands and constructed nine new islands totaling 49 acres, compared to the 74 acres of islands present shortly after inundation by Lock and Dam 9 in 1940.

As part of the work, backwater dredging increased water depths for fisheries.

A similar, multistate effort is now underway in Harper’s Slough involving Wisconsin DNR, Iowa DNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers using $16.5 million in federal funds.

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