Lower Mississippi River Habitat Partnership (Phase IV)-Upper Pool 9 Backwater Enhancement and Floodplain Forest Restoration
$1,555,000 the second year is to the commissioner
of natural resources to restore and enhance
aquatic and forest habitats in the lower
Mississippi River watershed, upper Pool 9
backwater. A list of proposed restorations and
enhancements must be provided as part of the
required accomplishment plan.
Healthier populations of endangered, threatened, and special concern species as well as more common species - Annual Fisheries surveys have been conducted by MN DNR in backwaters of upper Pool 9 since 1993, and continued monitoring will provide an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the 15 acre aquatic enhancement portion of this project. USFWS and USACE personnel will monitor and evaluate the success of the techniques used to restore 20 acres of floodplain forest..
This proposal seeks to enhance and restore 35 acres of fish and wildlife habitat on the lower Mississippi River in Houston County benefiting bluegill, crappie, bass, deer and Blue-winged and Prothonotary warblers. Sedimentation in Upper Mississippi River (UMR) backwaters and declining UMR floodplain forests are a concern to resource managers, anglers, hunters and recreational users. This proposal includes dredging accumulated sediments from a 15 acre backwater in upper Pool 9 and utilizing that material to bury invasive Reed Canary Grass and enhance topographical diversity on 20 acres of Mississippi River floodplain in support of tree planting and floodplain forest restoration.
Aquatic habitat in backwaters of the UMR are filling due to sedimentation from tributary inputs, altered hydrology and island erosion. Backwaters that historically provided deep water habitat and refuge to fish, reptiles and amphibians have decreased in quantity and quality throughout the UMR. The 15 acre aquatic area in upper Pool 9 to be enhanced by dredging will benefit bluegill, crappie and bass populations. Additionally, the area to be dredged is located in a protected bay adjacent to a public access and will increase year-round angling opportunities for multiple fish species. This is a unique project in that dredged material (silts and clays) will be used beneficially to enhance topographic diversity in support of floodplain forest restoration.Much of the existing floodplain forest in the Upper Pool 9 project area has been declining in coverage over the past several decades. Flat topography, higher groundwater levels caused by impoundment, increased frequency and duration of inundation, and reduced creation of new islands and shoreline have decreased the amount of terrestrial land cover suitable for sustaining forested communities in this area and throughout the UMR floodplain. Furthermore, increased competition from Reed Canary Grass (RCG), an aggressively invasive species whose occurrence is widespread throughout the project area, has adversely affected forest regeneration and altered the natural succession of open areas to forest. Placement of dredged material on a 20 acre area consisting of a monotypic stand of RCG will bury the invasive RCG, increase floodplain elevations by 2 - 3 feet and provide a clean medium for tree planting and direct seeding to restore the floodplain forest community, benefiting SGCN neo-tropical migrant bird species such as Prothonotary and Cerulean warblers.This project directly addresses the systemic issues of floodplain forest loss and habitat fragmentation, and is a priority action item in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) UMR Systemic Forest Management Plan. It incorporates a variety of floodplain forest restoration components such as: increasing tree species diversity; reintroduction of a hard mast component in floodplain forest communities; improving wildlife habitat; incorporation of innovative restoration measures such as the utilization of dredge materials for the purpose of increasing topographic diversity; and invasive species control and management. In addition, the project lends itself to the adaptive management process by incorporating a variety of restoration measures as well as post-project monitoring to measure their effectiveness, thereby informing future floodplain forest restoration efforts. As stated in the report "Ecological Status and Trends of the Upper Mississippi River System 1998" (USGS 1999), "The ecosystem as a whole benefits from floodplain forests. Besides serving as a rich habitat for wildlife and fish during floods; the forests reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and provide a scenic and recreational landscape." Floodplain forest restoration in this location will allow for direct comparison with other floodplain forest restoration techniques being utilized in adjacent parcels by partner organizations and agencies. Those partners include MN Audubon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the USACE.