Pool 14 habitat project will begin in 2018, pending funding | Clinton Herald

The largest habitat restoration project ever constructed in Pool 14 is nearing the final planning stages for the Beaver Island Habitat Restoration and Enhancement project. Construction for this nearly $20 million project is scheduled to begin in summer 2018, pending funding availability through the Rock Island District of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The meeting held in Clinton on Feb. 21 provided the most recent opportunity for public input. As a result, the project moved one step closer to implementation with design specifications in the final review process. The primary goals are restoration of year round aquatic habitat within the interior lakes of Beaver Island, diversification of the forest community, and improving side channel habitat for fish and mussels.

The project covers the southern three-fourths of Beaver Island. These lands are within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and are federally owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Corps of Engineers. The project is funded by the Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, a Corps funded program that addresses ecological needs on the Upper Mississippi River System to improve its environmental health and to increase our understanding of its natural resources.

 Beaver Island is one of the largest islands on the Upper Mississippi River and is the largest backwater complex in Pool 14. The island lies in the Mississippi River floodplain with the annual flood pulse controlling the composition of plant and animal communities. The project area is comprised of 1,678 acres of interconnected backwaters, secondary channels, wetlands, and floodplain habitat.

The restoration of deep water habitat within Beaver Island’s interior lakes is an important project feature. The deluge of spring and summer rains has added to the heavy silt loads being carried by the river. As swift moving water from the Mississippi River and Beaver Slough enter the calm backwater lakes, the silt settles to the bottom and fills the lakes with mud. Less than one inch of silt per year was normal in the past. We are now experiencing several inches of silt being deposited per year. Six to eight feet of mud need to be removed from these interior lakes to provide habitat for over-wintering fish that require low flows and oxygen rich water.

The project also must protect these interior lakes from future sedimentation. A primary source of silt comes from an inlet near the upstream end of Beaver Slough, called Upper Cut. Closing off this cut will significantly reduce the amount of sediment entering the backwater complex.

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Corps studies plans to create Lake Pepin islands | Rochester Post-Bulletin

RED WING — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday brought another plan for Pool 4 of the Upper Mississippi River District. This one is designed to help reduce erosion and improve water quality in Lake Pepin, said study planner Sierra Keenan with the Corps.

“We’re in the early stages of this study,” Keenan said. The Corps is developing a plan that would place islands on the north side of Lake Pepin to provide habitat and help environmental stability in the lake. “The objectives we have are to improve habitat for waterfowl and aquatic vegetation.”

Other goals of the project would be to dredge a route for motorboats to Bay City, Wis., dredge the backwaters to improve habitat for overwintering fish and improve or create new islands along the north side of Lake Pepin.

Tuesday’s meeting at the Red Wing Public Library was designed to introduce the concept and gather public input. Keenan emphasized that the plan for islands in Upper Pool 4 was not related to the dredge material management plan for Lower Pool 4. The Upper Pool 4 plan would, at most, use about 1 million cubic yards of dredge material, while the Lower Pool 4 plan will need to move more than 10 million cubic yards over 40 years.

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Pool 9 – Corps of Engineers to hold Conway Lake public meeting

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, has scheduled the Conway Lake Habitat and Rehabilitation public meeting for June 8.

The meeting will be held:

Date:               Thursday, June 8, 2017
Time:               6 to 8 p.m.
Location:         Kerndt Brothers Savings Bank Community Center, 370 Main St., Lansing, Iowa

The informal meeting will allow for an open exchange of information. A short slide show will be presented at 6:30 p.m., to explain the project and describe the construction work in more detail.  Representatives from partner agencies involved in the project will also be available.

The project, which is part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, is located in Pool 9 immediately upstream of Lansing, Iowa. It includes protecting or restoring 321 acres of aquatic and floodplain forest habitat throughout the 1,170 acre project area, which includes Shore Slough and a portion of Phillipi Lake.

The draft feasibility project report and integrated environmental assessment is available for public review at http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/Home/PublicNotices.aspx. Comments will be accepted until June 16. Comments on the report can be submitted to the District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, 180 E. Fifth St., Ste. 700, St. Paul, MN 55101-1678. Commenters are requested to not include personal privacy information, such as home addresses or home phone numbers, in their comments unless they do not object to such information being made available to the public.

The nearly 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the St. Paul District Fiscal Year 2016 $78 million budget, nearly 1,250 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $120 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.

Harper’s Slough project resumes; expected to be completed this summer

St. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, reminds Mississippi River boating and fishing enthusiasts to exercise caution in and around Mississippi River Pool 9 this summer.

The Corps’ contractor, Newt Marine Service, from Dubuque, Iowa, began the final phase of an island restoration project this week. Construction is expected to finish this summer. The project is by Harpers Slough, near Lynxville, Wisconsin.

Activities include finishing topsoil placement and planting vegetation. Caution should be used while navigating near the construction site since heavy equipment may be used for the construction activities.

The project is a part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, an environmental restoration program devoted to restoring habitat along the Mississippi River. Established in 1986, the Corps of Engineers has restored more than 45,000 acres, or 62 square miles, of river and floodplain habitat within the St. Paul District.

The Corps of Engineers asks everyone to practice water safety on the water this year. For tips and information on being safe while on the water, visit the St. Paul District website at: http://www.mvp.usace.army.mil/WaterSafety.aspx

The nearly 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the St. Paul District Fiscal Year 2016 $78 million budget, nearly 1,250 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $120 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.

Pool 14 Beaver Island Habitat Rehabilitation Open House

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is hosting a public open house Feb. 21 to discuss an ecosystem restoration plan for the Beaver Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project. The public open house will take place from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Erickson Center at 1401 11th Ave. in Clinton, Iowa.

Beaver Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project is part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program and is located in Clinton County, Iowa, in Pool 14 of the Upper Mississippi River. All Project lands are in Federal ownership and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the UMR National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Savanna District.

During the open house a formal presentation will be given regarding the Beaver Island ecosystem restoration plan. Representatives from all of the agencies involved in the project will be available to discuss the proposed restoration plan at Beaver Island. There will be staff on hand to gather public feedback and answer questions. For those who are unable to attend the event in person, the Rock Island District is scheduled to broadcast the open house live on their Facebook page starting at 6 p.m. To view the live feed, visit: https://www.facebook.com/RockIslandDistrictUSACE.

For more information about the Beaver Island Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, visit http://go.usa.gov/x9Hvz. For more information about the public meeting, contact the Rock Island District at (309) 794-5729 or email cemvr-cc@usace.army.mil.

Flushing the mighty Mississippi | clintonherald.com

The prolonged period of high water has chronicled a miserable summer for river enthusiasts along Clinton’s Mississippi River paradise. The raging river currents of muddy water have carried many floating logs that have torpedoed unsuspecting boaters. Fortunately, record flood levels haven’t been reached but it may set records for seasonal high water events. The unseen impacts of prolonged high water are hidden below the murky depths of the river.

Prior to the 1930s construction of locks and dams that impounded the Upper Mississippi River, there was seasonal flooding that was representative of a natural river system. After the Great Flood of 1965 many communities, like Clinton, built levees to control flooding and minimize property damage. Extensive development within the historic flood plain followed. The miles of additional concrete and other structures now push river flows higher and into areas that are far from the historic flood plain.

Clinton is geographically situated in a transition zone where the Upper Mississippi River changes its environmental character. The river north of Clinton extending to Minnesota contains extensive flowing side channels, islands, braided backwaters and a myriad of wetlands. The river south of Clinton down to St. Louis is more constricted with few side channels, backwaters and wetland complexes. The open Lower Mississippi River (no locks and dams) below St. Louis is a fast flowing channel mostly bordered by levees.

A major effect of high water is increased sedimentation in our backwaters. In a typical year, there is less than an inch of mud added to the backwaters by sediment deposition. We can potentially expect several inches of mud to be deposited this year due to the high flows of sediment laden currents.

Beaver Island is a prime example of the impacts of sedimentation. An aerial photo shows that water flowing from Beaver Channel into Upper Cut is the prime contributor of sediment being trapped within the island’s interior. These formerly deep backwater lakes are now filled with several feet of mud. During normal water levels, the majority of these lakes are only a few inches deep. The planned Beaver Island habitat restoration project’s goal is to restore these lakes to deep water and to improve forest diversity.

High water flows also carry increased amounts of nutrients that run off from agricultural fields and urban areas. These nutrients accumulate along the 2,300 mile Mississippi River length and are ultimately dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The result is a nearly 6,000 square mile Dead Zone where low levels of oxygen make it uninhabitable for marine life.

Fish and other aquatic species take advantage of high water events to expand their range. Asian carp migrated north during the 1993 flood, leaving the Lower Mississippi River and venturing into the Illinois River and Upper Mississippi River, a journey of many hundreds of miles. These unwelcome invaders are now silently moving upriver through open dams and will undoubtedly be established in our area within a few years.

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Blackhawk Park on Pool 9 closed due to flooding

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is temporarily closing Blackhawk Park, located near De Soto, Wis., today, Sept. 23, due to recent heavy rains and high river levels.

Also closed are Mississippi River landings at Jays, Millstone and Bad Axe. The Corps will reopen the park and landings as conditions allow. For more information, please contact park staff at 608-648-3314.

The nearly 600 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, employees working at more than 40 sites in five upper-Midwest states serve the American public in the areas of environmental enhancement, navigation, flood damage reduction, water and wetlands regulation, recreation sites and disaster response. Through the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2015 $100 million budget, nearly 1,600 non-Corps jobs were added to the regional economy as well as $155 million to the national economy. For more information, see www.mvp.usace.army.mil.

Train derails near Ferryville; fuel spills into Mississippi River | lacrossetribune.com

A BNSF freight train derailed and leaked diesel fuel Thursday morning after tracks washed out north of Ferryville as a second night of heavy rains triggered flooding and mudslides.

Two locomotives and five rail cars left the tracks around 5:40 a.m. as the result of a washout north of a bridge over Rush Creek, according to the railroad.

The crew was not injured but were transported to a local hospital as a precaution, said BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth.

Two of the derailed cars were empty tankers; one was last used to haul ethanol and the other vegetable oil. The others were carrying drywall panels.

McBeth said about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from one of the locomotives.

Sabrina Chandler, refuge manager for the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, said it appeared most of the fuel spilled into the ballast and it’s not clear how much may have ended up in the river.

“I would say it’s pretty mild compared to what it could be,” Chandler said of the environmental threat. “Anytime anything goes in the river that doesn’t belong there it does create a concern.”

McBeth said BNSF crews placed absorbent boom around the site Thursday afternoon to prevent any diesel from seeping into the water and have had boats on the river.

She did not have an estimate for how long it would take to clean up the site or restore service on the line, which follows the Mississippi River from the Twin Cities to the Illinois border.

McBeth said an inspection found no damage to the concrete bridge over the creek.

Officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency were heading to the scene Thursday morning but access to the site is difficult because of damage from two days of heavy rains.

Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Marc Willis said the agency is aware of the derailment and has sent inspectors to the scene.

According to the National Weather Service, more than six inches of rain fell over parts of Vernon and Crawford counties between Tuesday night and Thursday morning, triggering numerous mudslides and flooding roadways.

A resident of nearby Victory, Wis., died when his home was swept down a hillside.

More: Train derails near Ferryville; fuel spills into Mississippi River | Local | lacrossetribune.com.

Source: Train derails near Ferryville; fuel spills into Mississippi River | lacrossetribune.com