The St. Paul District, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, celebrated the completion of a $4.9 million Twin Cities restoration project with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Shakopee, Minnesota, Oct. 11.
This milestone project, marking the third Upper Mississippi River Restoration, or UMRR, project dedication in a single year for the district, is made possible through UMRR funding. The program ensures the coordinated development and enhancement of the Upper Mississippi River system with a primary emphasis on habitat restoration projects and resource monitoring.
The Corps celebrated the completion of two other UMRR projects, Harpers Slough and Conway Lake, with a ribbon cutting ceremony April 22, in Lansing, Iowa.
The Bass Ponds Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement project built five new water level management structures so that refuge staff can lower, raise or maintain water levels to restore plant and bird habitat.
“The one thing that’s unique about this project is its location. The other UMRR projects are on the river and primarily only accessible by boat. Here, you can walk to the project, ride your bike or kayak through here. It’s more present to the public in this central location so they (the public) can truly appreciate it,” said Kevin Wilson, St. Paul District deputy district engineer.
Prior to the 1850s, this area was primarily wetlands and native prairie; however, land-use changes, trending toward agricultural usage, as well as climate change resulting in more frequent flood events, have significantly altered the hydrology of the area.
In the 36-year history of the UMRR program, more than 55 habitat projects benefiting approximately 100,000 acres on the Upper Mississippi River, from Minneapolis to St. Louis, have been completed.
“Over 35 years after its inception, the UMRR program endures. It’s now a highly effective federal program and the promise of the program’s early years is being met and exceeding expectations,” said Kirsten Wallace Upper Mississippi River Basin Association executive director.