The Mississippi River and its associated floodplain provide excellent recreational opportunities for many visitors each year, but are also globally significant as a natural resource. In 2001, the Upper Mississippi River was designated as a Globally Important Bird Area by the American Bird Conservancy not only because it is home to many state and federally protected species but also due to significant numbers of migrating hawks, waterfowl, and songbirds using it as a fly-way each year. In 2010, the Upper Mississippi River floodplain received designation as a Wetland of International Importance through an effort to conserve and protect wetlands called the Ramsar Convention. These designations are no surprise to the many agencies that manage the land along the Mississippi River, as well as biologists and other members of the general public who see how important the river truly is.
The Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District is involved in management of over 54,000 acres of land and over 2,000 miles of shoreline along the river. Of this managed land over 80 percent is leased to other state and federal agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Natural Resources for wildlife refuges and management areas through cooperative agreements. The Mississippi River Project’s Environmental Stewardship mission includes both the Forestry and Shoreline Management programs.