Habitat Restoration

Enhancing habitat for restoring and maintaining a healthier and more resilient Upper Mississippi River Ecosystem

Restoring habitat is one of two major focus areas of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program.  The Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project (HREP) element utilizes a wide range of construction techniques and approaches that mimic natural river processes and provide benefits to the river system at the system, reach, pool, and local scales.

Each restoration project is multi-faceted, enhances many types of habitats and species, and addresses specific ecological goals that are identified through a comprehensive planning process. HREPs use a variety of restoration techniques including shoreline protection, island creation, water level management, backwater dredging, secondary channel modifications, aeration, and floodplain and tributary restoration.  Planning teams for restoration projects utilize ecosystem understanding and long-term monitoring data provided by the Science and Monitoring element of UMRR to identify problems and to improve project effectiveness.

Our projects continually build upon experience gained from construction, management, and monitoring of prior projects and the UMRR’s foundation partner coordination. UMRR is constantly enhancing its restoration techniques and incorporating new research findings to improve habitat benefits to project costs ratios.  The 2006 Environmental Design Handbook and the 2012 update capture this learning, documents UMRR’s approach to adaptive management, and facilitates the transfer of knowledge and experience within and beyond UMRR, key elements of the program’s success. 

The HREP element has fostered interdisciplinary and collaborative planning for habitat restoration, preservation, and enhancement previously non-existent on any other river system in the United States.  

  • St. Paul District restores habitat on the Mississippi River above Lock and Dam 10 at Guttenberg, Iowa (Pools 10 and above). 
  • Rock Island District  restores habitat on the Mississippi River between Lock and Dam 10 and Lock and Dam 22 at Saverton, Missouri, (Pools 11 through 22); and on the Illinois Waterway above river mile 80 (including LaGrange and Peoria Pools). 
  • St. Louis District  restores habitat on the Mississippi River south of Lock and Dam 22 to Cairo, Illinois. 
For 35 years the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program has been working to build a healthier, more resilient Upper Mississippi River ecosystem to sustain the river's multiple uses.
This project involved two huge gated-culverts and a channel hundreds of feet long to provide dissolved oxygen in the backwater. Seven acres were also dredged to create deeper wintertime fish habitat.
This is a 500-acre backwater complex, consisting of two miles of island, a berm to reduce sediment, and a small channel. The island protects the area from waves and current, thereby improving light penetration in the water and allowing plants to grow for the benefit of fish and wildlife. Dredging provided wintertime fish habitat.
This 600-acre land and water project provides a 10,200-foot-long rock dike around the head of the island, which deflects sediment from the aquatic and wetlands complex behind it.
The project included constructing islands and dredging to increase water depths. It improved conditions for more than 45 fish species. The island protects the area from waves and current which increases light penetration in the water, allowing plants to grow for the benefit of fish and wildlife. The project also improved wintertime habitat for fish.
A riverside levee reduces sediment input into the lake. Two interior closures were installed to divide the lake into three independently managed units. Islands were constructed to protect the area from waves and current. Pumps and water control structures were installed to re-create historic water-level variations; and deep-water habitat was created for fish.

Maps of HREP Projects