Project Documents

Fact Sheet

Lower Pool 18 Forestry Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project

Rock Island District

The Lower Pool 18 Forestry Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project is located in Louisa and Des Moines counties in Iowa, in Pool 18 of the Upper Mississippi River. The project site lies between the Iowa River delta, river mile 434.8 and Johnson Island, river mile 420.2, nearby towns include New Boston, Keithsburg, and Oquawka, Illinois. All project lands are in federal ownership and managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources


The Project area includes islands, mature forested wetlands, floodplain habitat, sloughs, and backwater wetlands. Blackhawk Island (Figure 1) and Johnson Island (Figure 2) are dominated by mature stands of cottonwood and silver maple forested wetland communities. Historically, the Iowa River delta area supported the largest population and density of Kentucky coffeetree in the State of Iowa. Significant decline in the Kentucky coffeetree has occurred over the last 5 years and the population is down to a few scattered individuals.

Though degraded, the area supports a diverse population of wildlife, including migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, warm water fish species, furbearers, deer, swans, pelicans, eagles, wading birds, and various reptiles and amphibians. The state-endangered copperbelly water snake and state-threatened diamondback water snake have known populations documented near the Project area at Lake Odessa.

Project objectives include:

  • Increase forest resiliency - sustain health and growth of forests through targeted treatment of tree age cohorts, species composition, and structure diversity
  • Increase longevity of existing healthy trees - reduce overall tree density and increase available growing space
  • Restore early successional forested wetland habitat
  • Increase topographic diversity to enhance tree survival, wetland function and habitat for a variety of birds, mammals and bats
  • Restore, maintain and enhance floodplain vegetation diversity

The Pool 12 Forestry Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project (HREP) is located in portions of Jo Daviess County in Illinois and Dubuque and Jackson Counties in Iowa. The project area covers approximately 26 miles of Pool 12 in the Upper Mississippi River, from Lock and Dam 12 (river mile 557.0) near Bellevue, Iowa, to Lock and Dam 11 (river mile 583.0) in
Dubuque, Iowa. 

The vast majority of bottomland islands and backwater lakes found in Pool 12 are federally owned and are currently managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. With the exception of Nine-Mile Island at river mile 573.0 and Scott Island at river mile 561.0, most of this land is located on the Illinois side of the river in Jo Daviess County.

The project goals are to maintain, enhance and restore the ecological health of floodplain hardwood forests in Pool 12 to levels that are sustainable and resilient.

Project objectives include:

  • Enhance and promote continued forest health and growth in existing quality floodplain forests.
  • Increase topographic diversity and elevation where significant forest loss and decline occurs from increased flooding.
  • Enhance and increase the pool coverage extent, patch size, and successional diversity of floodplain forest communities.
  • Restore and maintain large contiguous patches of forest communities by reduction in canopy gaps converted to invasive species.
  • Enhance and increase habitat corridors and connectivity (focus is on forest- dependent and migratory species). 

Proposed Project Features

  • Timber stand improvement targeting forest diversity. Treatments would include various thinning treatments and tree planting efforts.
  • Non-native invasive species eradication and tree planting efforts to re-establish forested wetland areas and preventing the re-establishment of non-native species.
  • Establishment of ridge and swale habitat to provide topographic diversity in support of diverse tree species survival and isolated wetland creation.