Corps of Engineers awards contract to repair Mississippi River habitat islands

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published May 21, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, recently awarded a $2.4 million contract to Water Works Dock & Boat Lifts, Inc. of Stoddard, Wisconsin, to repair a Mississippi River habitat restoration project approximately 40 miles south of La Crosse, Wisconsin, that was damaged by recent flooding events.

Consecutive years of high water, including record flows in 2019, resulted in severe erosion to several islands. The islands were completely submerged for more than 90 days in 2019. In addition to the erosion, deep backwater fish habitat was also damaged due to increased sediment.

The repairs include fixing the damaged islands and fish habitat. The work is anticipated to take two years to complete.

The islands are located within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The refuge is designated a Globally Important Bird Area and a Wetland of International Importance and has 3.7 million visitors annually. The Harpers Slough area of the refuge is managed to establish and protect floodplain forest, emergent wetlands and backwater habitat for fish, migratory waterfowl and other native wildlife species. Visitation to this area includes recreational boating, wildlife observation and fishing.

This project is funded under the authority of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program. This 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. The Corps of Engineers partners on this project include the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In the 30-plus-year history of the program, more than 55 habitat projects benefiting approximately 100,000 acres on the Upper Mississippi River, from the Twin Cities to St. Louis, have been completed. These projects provide critical habitat for riverine species, supporting the ecosystem’s overall health and resilience.

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Release no. 21-045