Fort Chartres/Salt Lake Side Channel Restoration                                                                                          

St. Louis District

Upper Mississippi River, Miles 132 - 140, Randolph County, Illinois, Congressional District: IL - 12


  • US Fish and Wildlife Service


The Salt Lake/ Fort Chartres side channel complex is located along the Illinois Bank of the Mississippi River between river miles (RM) 132.5 and 139.5.  The complex is among approximately 25 side channels remaining along the Middle Mississippi River (MMR) between Mel Price LOcks and Dam (RM 200.8) and the confluence with the Ohio River at RM 0.0.  Side channel restorations along the MIssissippi River are proposed to restore aquatic and wildlife habitat.

Salt Lake Chute is 3.4 miles long, 300 to 800 feet wide, and covers approximately 250 acres at mean river stage.  Salt Lake Chute creates an island area of approximately 330 privately-owned acres.  Fort Chartres Chute is 2.2 miles long, 100 to 300 feet wide, and covers about 45 acres.  Fort Chartres Chute likewise forms an island of about 300 acres; the lower two-thirds are owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, while the remaining third are privately owned. 

Side channels are a critical component of the Mississippi River ecosystem, and those that remain in the MMR are in various stages of degradation. Most have been degraded by a variety of factors including: reduced flow, uniform bottom depths, lost connectivity to the river and adjacent wetlands, a loss of aquatic habitat structure, increased sedimentation, and a loss of overall habitat diversity. 

The project if implemented, will begin to meet the goals set forth in the Habitat Needs Assessment (2000), the District's Middle Mississippi River Side Channels Plan, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Plan, and will provide much needed habitat for the myriad of aquatic species that utilize side channel habitat during all our portions of their life cycles.  The proposed project is anticipated to produce a variety of the following outputs:

  • reduced bed load and increased side channel flows
  • increased depth diversity
  • increased channel longevity
  • improved conditions for fish ingress/egress to side channels
  • increased habitat diversity
  • endangered species habitat improvement

Quick Facts

  • Approximate Acres: 60
  • Congressional District: IL - 12
  • State(s) Covered: IL
  • Land Ownership: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Management Agency: USFWS
  • Management Authority: Cooperative Agreement 

Proposed Potential Features

  • Placement of rock weirs.
  • Insert alternating hard points to increase sinusoidal flow patterns through side channel.
  • Modify existing rock closure structures.
  • Selective dredging to remove sand deposits.
  • Create ridges using side channel dredged material.
  • Creation of interior swales. Improve secondary channels.
  • Structural improvements or dredging.
  • Notch dikes within side channel to increase connectivity. 


  • This project has been endorsed by the River Resource Action Team
  • This project has been deferred