Upper Mississippi River Restoration - Challenges and Opportunities

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 9:40 AM
Marriott Ballroom B (The Marriott Little Rock)
Kathryn McCain , Regional Planning & Environment Division North, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis, MO
The Illinois River and the portion of the Upper Mississippi River upstream of the confluence with the Ohio River constitute the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS), which the U.S. Congress designated as both a “nationally significant ecosystem” and “nationally significant waterway” in the Water Resources Development Act of 1986.  With this designation, the Upper Mississippi River Restoration – Environmental Management Program (UMRR-EMP) was launched to collect long-term data on the river across five states and implement site-specific habitat enhancement projects.   With over 25 years of large scale ecosystem restoration experience, UMRR-EMP has become recognized as a successful partnership program, a leader in long-term monitoring of large rivers, and a pioneer in constructing large restoration projects in dynamic systems.  UMRR-EMP has completed 54 river restoration projects affecting more than 100,000 acres. 

Challenges to the UMRS include impacts of invasive species, sedimentation, floodplain connectivity, loss of islands and side channels, and floodplain degradation.  To address these challenges, the UMRR-EMP builds upon prior experiences and long-term monitoring, incorporates new research findings, and provides opportunities to utilize restoration techniques and approaches that mimic natural river processes and provide benefits to the river system.