Many boaters and other river users may have noticed construction equipment in the Shore Slough area, north of Lansing, Iowa. The Conway Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project located in Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River has started its construction phase.
The Conway Lake project includes Phillipi Lake, Shore Slough, and adjacent islands, floodplain forest, and slough habitat. This 1,170-acre backwater area lies within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, McGregor District. Island construction, floodplain forest creation, and dredging will be accomplished by Kaiyuh Services, LLC of Anchorage, Alaska. This $5.2 million project is funded through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, and was planned and designed cooperatively with the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources.
Since the creation of Lock and Dam No. 9 in 1937, many of the natural islands in this area and the floodplain forests they support, have eroded and disappeared. This degradation has also resulted in increased hydraulic connectivity which has led to colder water in overwintering areas, increased minimum water surface elevations which has degraded floodplain forests, and sediment deposition in backwater areas. This reduced habitat available for migratory birds and native fish species.
The islands and floodplain forest areas will be built using material from the Lansing Island Dredge Material Placement site and from the Shore Slough area backwaters. To prevent the new islands from eroding, rock will be placed along sections of shoreline and vegetation will be planted. The islands will help protect and enhance existing islands and aquatic vegetation in the Shore Slough area, and dredging the backwaters will create deeper holes for fisheries overwintering habitat. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2022. After construction is complete, additional floodplain forest enhancement activities will include planting trees on the constructed features and performing timber stand improvements throughout the backwater area.