Huron Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project

Rock Island District

Pool 18, Upper Mississippi River Mile, 421.2 - 425.4, Des Moines County, Iowa, Congressional District: IA - 2


  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources


The Huron Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project is located approximately 20 miles upstream of Burlington, Iowa and approximately 9 river miles downstream from where the Iowa River enters the Mississippi River.   All project lands are in Federal ownership.

The Project area contains more than 2,600 acres of interconnected backwaters, secondary channels, wetlands, and floodplain forest habitat.   Huron Chute separates Huron Island from the main land.   The greater than 1300 acres of bottomland forest  are dominated by even aged soft mast tree species of silver maple, ash, and cottonwood.  The sloughs and wetlands within Complex have lost much of their fish and wildlife habitat value due to silt deposition.  Huron Chute is experiencing bankline sloughing in the upper portion, which has degraded the near-shore habitat. Habitat in the project area was considered to be moderate to poor quality habitat pre-project construction. Stressors include sedimentation and increased water levels. The stressors are likely to continue and the quality of aquatic and floodplain habitat would decline without the project. By constructing the project, the opportunity exists to protect and restore habitat for fish, wildlife and resident and migratory birds before it is lost, as well as to protect natural geomorphic processes

The Project would restore backwater habitat by excavating backwater channels to a depth of 8 feet below flat pool, providing overwintering and year-round habitat for fish.  Excavated materials will be used to construct land and aquatic areas to enhance bathymetric and topographic diversity.  These areas will be planted with native aquatic and floodplain forest vegetation and trees.  A rock closure structure will be constructed in Garner Island to reduce the overwintering water velocities while maintaining necessary levels of dissolved oxygen.  Rock will be constructed at the head of two small islands in Huron Chute to protect from erosion. 

The Project lands, which are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and federally owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, are outgranted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through a cooperative agreement dated July 31, 2001.  Responsibility for the operation, maintenance and repair of the lands has been given to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through a cooperative agreement dated March 22, 2012. 

Quick Facts

  • Approximate Acres: 2600
  • State(s) Covered: Iowa
  • Land Ownership: Federal
  • Management Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
  • Management Authority: Cooperative Agreement

Project Features

  • Construct bathymetric and topographic diversity adjacent to and in backwater areas.
  • Construct topographic diversity in non-diverse forested areas.
  • Establish native aquatic, wetland, and floodplain forest vegetation and trees.
  • Construct a closure structure in Garner Chute.
  • Protect small side channel islands and bankline protection in Huron Chute from erosion.   


  • The Fact Sheet was approved in April 2006.
  • The Definite Project Report was completed in November 2013.
  • Construction Contracts:
    • Huron Island Stage I Construction Contract was awarded in July 2014. Scope of work includes dredging/excavating Goose Lake Access Channel, Pool 1 and Pool 2; constructing small island bank stabilization, and constructing a closure structure in Garner Chute. Work will provide topographic diversity and aquatic habitat.
    • Huron Island Stage II Construction contract was awarded in August 2016. Scope of work includes tree clearing and grubbing; excavation, placing, and shaping excavated materials; riprap; construction of anchored logs and locked logs; and surveying. It is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2020.
    • Huron Island Stage III Construction Contract will continue with the aquatic plant re-establishment.