Steamboat Island Habitat Rehabilitation & Enhancement Project

Rock Island District

Upper Mississippi River, Pool 14 (River Miles 502.5 - 508.0) 
Clinton & Scott Counties, Iowa, and Rock Island County, Illinois

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Steamboat Island HREP is a 2,620-acre island and backwater complex located in the middle section of Pool 14 of the Upper Mississippi River, between the town of Princeton (UMR River Mile 502.5) and the Wapsipinicon River (UMR RM 508.0), in Clinton & Scott Counties, Iowa, and Rock Island County, Illinois. The Project lands are federally owned and are part of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (NWFR).

Steamboat Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project area map (click for larger view)

Human activity over the past two centuries within the UMR basin, floodplain, and channel has altered the hydrology, topography, and biotic communities present. Years of silt deposition has allowed willows and silver maples to colonize the once-aquatic portions of the project area, resulting in degraded aquatic and wetland complexes. 

Impoundment of the pool and permanently higher water tables have affected the health of floodplain habitat on islands and adjacent floodplain areas. These higher water tables are affecting forest composition and regeneration. All of these alterations have reduced the quality and diversity of aquatic and floodplain habitats, impaired ecosystem functions, and reduced the acreage of Steamboat Island and other smaller islands in the area.

Project Goals:
The goals of the project are to maintain, enhance, and restore quality habitat for all native and desirable plant, animal, and fish species and maintain, enhance, restore, and emulate natural river processes, structures, and functions for a sustainable ecosystem. 

Methods identified to meet these project goals include: 

  • Enhancing and restoring forest habitats and diversity
  • Increasing year-round aquatic habitat diversity 
  • Restoring and protecting island acreage and topography 
  • Protecting existing backwater habitat from sediment deposition and enhancing backwater and interior wetland areas

A Recommended Plan for completing this Project is included in the final Feasibility Study Report.  

The Recommended Plan includes development of the following features:

  • Aquatic diversity and overwintering habitat
  • Grade control structure
  • Topographic diversity – forest and scrub-shrub/pollinator habitat
  • Timber Stand Improvement 
  • Island restoration and protection

The original Fact Sheet was approved in September 2010
The Feasibility Report was completed in 2021

Project Cost:
All Project lands are federally-owned and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the UMR National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The estimated total project cost of construction and associated expenses is $33.6 million. These funds are allocated as part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District.