Turkey River Bottoms Delta and Backwater Complex Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project

Rock Island District

Pool 11, Upper Mississippi River, Miles 603 - 609, Clayton County, Iowa and Grant County, Wisconsin, Congressional District: Iowa - 1, Wisconsin - 3




The majority of Mississippi River tributary mouths and their associated delta formations have degraded habitat quality and a lack of habitat diversity due to various human actions.  Historically, much of the Turkey River Delta area had been a mixture of wet prairie, bottomland forests and backwater complexes before a large portion was converted  to agricultural uses.

Migratory birds need areas of flooded, nutrient rich food sources along a migration route.  Reliable, consistent flooded food sources for migratory birds has been declining.  Manageable wetland complexes are needed to supply this habitat deficiency on the UMR, which was lost when the water levels were managed for the 9-foot navigation project. 

Historically, the backwater complexes in the area have been important overwintering fish habitat.  However, fisheries problems with the backwater lakes in the area include too little depth to accommodate fish through winter ice-up and low oxygen levels in both winter and summer.  Due to siltation, fish movement is restricted at the entrance to the lakes.  Fish may become trapped in isolated areas during high water and kill out when the water drops and oxygen becomes depleted.
Identified problems include lack of migratory bird habitat; loss of mast tree diversity; poor overwintering habitat; and poor nursery habitat for fish and wildlife.

Quick Facts

  • Approximate Acres: 3638
  • Congressional District: Iowa - 1, Wisconsin - 3
  • State(s) Covered: Iowa, Wisconsin
  • Land Ownership: Federal
  • Management Agency: USFWS
  • Management Authority: Refuge

Project Features

  • Moist Soil Unit
  • Backwater dredging
  • Topographic enhancement


  • The Fact Sheet was approved in September 2010.