The long awaited Beaver Island Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Project – aimed to dramatically improve the habitat and environmental health on this Mississippi River island – is finally underway and moving forward according to schedule.
“The $10 million habitat restoration project is funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Upper Mississippi River Restoration program. This program addresses ecological needs on the Upper Mississippi River System to improve its environmental health,” said the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) in its release.
The primary goals of the Beaver Island project are the restoration of year round aquatic habitat within the interior lakes, diversification of the forest community, and improving habitat for fish and mussels.
The project includes 1,678 acres within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and are federally-owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
“Project completion will take two years and all public access is restricted within 200 yards of workers and equipment. The first stage of construction is underway with the clearing of trees along the interior shoreline. Tree cutting must be completed by March 31 due to bat conservation guidelines. Excavated material will subsequently be placed in these areas,” according to the announcement.
A critical part of the project is to protect Beaver Island’s interior lakes from future sedimentation. A primary source of silt comes from the Upper Cut inlet in Beaver Slough. A rock structure will close off the Upper Cut entrance to ensure long term benefits within the island’s interior, said NWRS.
Sediment will be excavated from the interior access channel and four interior lakes that include Stewart, Blue Bell, Sand Burr and Hulziger. Each area will be excavated to an average eight feet depth that will benefit fish and other aquatic species.