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Pool 12 Overwintering Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project

Rock Island District

Pool 12, Upper Mississippi River Miles 563.0 - 573.0, Jo Davies County, Illinois


  • IADNR 


The Pool 12 Overwintering project area is located along the left descending bank of the Upper Mississippi River approximately 10 miles south of Dubuque, Iowa, in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The project lies generally between the Mississippi River's main channel and the railroad tracks that parallel the river's east bank. The project lands are Federally owned by the Corps of Engineers and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Savanna Division.  Presently, overwintering habitat for fish and backwater habitat for both waterfowl and fish are very limited in Pool 12. Sedimentation of backwater lakes and sloughs has reduced the value of historic overwintering areas. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has documented that the overwintering habitat in Pool 12 has become a limiting factor for survival of riverine fish.  The goals of the project are to restore and protect aquatic off-channel habitat and to  restore floodplain forest  habitat. The objectives identified to meet these goals are:

  1. Increase the amount of deep water habitat in the backwater lakes complex of Pool 12 as measured by acres to provide pool-wide overwintering habitat for fish.  (Target depth is 6 to 8 feet)
  2. Increase depth diversity in the backwater lakes complex of Pool 12 as measured by acres to provide year round habitat for fish
  3. Increase sustainability of aquatic habitat in the backwater lakes complex of Pool 12 as measured by acres by decreasing the sedimentation in the complex
  4. Increase areal coverage in acres of forest stands with hard mast-producing trees as a dominant or component species in floodplain forest areas surrounding the backwater lakes of Pool 12 

Quick Facts

  • Approximate Acres: 628
  • Congressional District: Illinois - 17, Iowa 1
  • State(s) Covered: Illinois, Iowa
  • Land Ownership: Federal
  • Management Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Management Authority: Refuge


  • Deepening backwater lakes and sloughs to provide critically important over-wintering habitat for fish by excavating approximately 63 acres of channels
  • Using excavated material to enhance topographic diversity through aquatic and land berm construction
  • Planting native mast-trees on approximately 40 acres of land berms


  • The Fact Sheet was approved in March 2004.
  • The Definite Project Report was approved in March 2013.
  • A contract award for constructing Sunfish Lake is anticipated by the end of September 2013.
  • The remaining three backwater sites (Tippy Lake, Kehough Slough, and Stone Lake) will be constructed in subsequent years.