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UMRR Program - IL, IA, MO, MN, WI - Upper Mississippi River Restoration

Published March 11, 2020

The UMRR (Upper Mississippi River Restoration) Program includes the Upper Mississippi River between the Twin Cities, Minnesota and the mouth of the Ohio River, the Illinois Waterway and small portions of tributaries that have commercial navigation channels.

The UMRR Program was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986 and continuously authorized by WRDA 1999. The program consists of two primary elements: habitat rehabilitation projects and systemic monitoring and research. Some of the key provisions of the program are: 1) a continuing authority; 2) total authorized annual funding amount is $33,170,000; and 3) the requirement for a Report to Congress every six years to evaluate the Program and document progress and its accomplishments and identify systemic habitat needs. 

The UMRR Program was the first environmental restoration and monitoring program undertaken on a large river system in the United States. The UMRR Program has come to be recognized as the single most important effort committed to ensuring the viability and vitality of the UMRS' diverse and significant fish and wildlife resources since establishment of the National Wildlife Refuges on that system in the 1920s.
This systemic program provides a well-balanced combination of habitat restoration activities, along with monitoring and research. UMRR has pioneered many new and innovative engineering and planning techniques for ecosystem restoration in large river systems. In addition, the science element of the UMRR has developed state-of-the-art techniques to monitor and conduct research on the river. Scientific monitoring, engineering design and environmental modeling techniques have been shared throughout the United States and in more than five countries.

The UMRR Program has a partnership of unparalleled dimensions between a multitude of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and the general public. The total annual value of these partnership contributions to the UMRR Program averages $1,000,000.

Over the past 33 years, the program has completed several major initiatives. These include: four Reports to Congress; the 2000 & 2018 Habitat Needs Assessments; two Status and Trends Reports; two Habitat Restoration Design Manuals; a UMRR Program Strategic and Operational Plan; two UMRR Long Term Resource Monitoring element Strategic Plans; and developed an explicit approach to Adaptive Management. 

Since 1986, the UMRR Program has completed 56 habitat projects that improved critical fish and wildlife habitat on 106,000 acres in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. From 2005 to 2015, UMRR projects benefited nearly 35,000 acres of habitat - nearly 50% of all habitat reported by the Corps nationally. The UMRR Program has 22 additional projects in various stages of construction and design. These projects will benefit another 65,000 acres of habitat when implemented. The UMRR Program fulfills the direction of Congress to manage the UMRS as a nationally significant ecosystem. Other Corps programs address the navigation system.

The UMRR Program addresses long term stressors to the UMRS, such as sedimentation, increased water tables due to maintaining navigation pools during low flows and continues to effectively respond to new stressors on the UMRS, such as the invasive Asian carps. Without the UMRR Program, the Upper Mississippi River ecosystem will degrade at an accelerated rate and the progress that has been made to preserve this national treasure for future generations will be lost. 

In the last nine years, the UMRR Program: 1) completed the 2016 Report to Congress; 2) completed the 2015-2025 UMRR Strategic and Operational Plan; 3) signed a new Advisory Groups Charter; 4) recognized the Program's 30 years of service to the nation, receiving commendations from several federal, state, and local leaders; 5) initiated the groundbreaking effort to define and integrate ecosystem health and resilience principles for the UMRS; 6) completed development of the second Habitat Needs Assessment to focus future habitat rehabilitation efforts; and 7) continued collection of the annual systemic data on key environmental attributes of the UMRS to assess changes and evaluate ecosystem health and resilience.

In 2019 alone, the UMRR Program continued worked on 23 habitat projects, including completion of five feasibility studies and the award of two construction contracts and continued construction on six habitat projects.  The UMRR Program executed 99% of the funds allocated to it.  

Additional Information

Congressional Interest

Senators: Charles Grassley (IA), Joni Ernst (IA), Richard Durbin (IL), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Tina Smith (MN), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Roy Blunt (MO), Joshua Hawley (MO), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Ron Johnson (WI)

Representatives: IA-1 (Abby Finkenauer), IA-2 (David Loebsack), IL-11 (Bill Foster), IL-13 (Rodney Davis), IL-16 (Adam Kinzinger), IL-17 (Cheri Bustos), IL-18 (Darin LaHood), IL-3 (Dan Lipsinski), IL-4 (Jesus Garcia), IL-7 (Danny Davis), MN-1 (Jim Hagedorn), MO-6 (Sam Graves), WI-3 (Ron Kind)
CG - Construction General
Section 1103 of WRDA 1986, as amended

Summarized Project Costs

Estimated Federal Cost   $1,325,661,000
Estimated Non-Federal Cost $26,066,000
Estimated Total Project Cost    $1,351,727,000
Allocations Prior to FY 2020 $637,446,000
FY 2020 Allocation   $33,170,000
FY 2020 Total Capability $33,170,000


Major Work Item Current Year
FY 2020: The FY20 appropriation for the UMRR Program will allow for initiation of Feasibility on three projects, continue Feasibility on seven projects, initiate Design on two projects, initiate Construction on three projects, continue Construction on five projects, and complete Construction on two projects.  In addition, these funds support the collection and analysis of monitoring data on key environmental attributes of the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) and research to enhance effectiveness of restoration efforts.

In addition, the Program will 1) continue development of a ground breaking effort to define and integrate ecosystem health and resilience principles into this five state regional ecosystem rehabilitation program; 2) complete the second Habitat Needs Assessment to enhance future habitat rehabilitation efforts: and 3) use the HNA II to inform the identification of the next generation of habitat projects. In addition, it supports collection and analysis of key environmental attributes of the UMRS at USGS and the six field stations in five states. It will also support applied research that is designed to enhance the Program's overall capability to increase resiliency and health of the UMRS and monitor progress towards increasing health and resiliency.

The UMRR Program has a long history of engaging the public and this will continue. The UMRR Program completed a Strategic Plan which includes adoption of a vision to make the UMRS more resilient and healthier and to develop tools to help measure progress towards meeting the Vision. All aspects of the Program will be coordinated to ensure that they directly contribute to advancing the Program Vision.