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Formal Consultation Completed for Explosive Removal of Rock from the Middle Mississippi River
Midwest Region, February 13, 2007
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Disposal area for material excavated from the Grand Tower Reach. The material will be used to create a gravel/cobble area at the head of an existing bar.
- FWS photo
Disposal area for material excavated from the Grand Tower Reach. The material will be used to create a gravel/cobble area at the head of an existing bar.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a
Work area located in the Grand Tower Reach of the Middle Mississippi River. Approximately 562 cubic yards of shelf rock is proposed to be removed.
- FWS photo
Work area located in the Grand Tower Reach of the Middle Mississippi River. Approximately 562 cubic yards of shelf rock is proposed to be removed.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a

In February, the Marion, Illinois Sub-Office for Ecological Services completed formal consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding a proposed project to remove rock pinnacles and outcroppings from the Middle Mississippi River (MMR) using explosives. 

The biological opinion for the project concluded that the proposed project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the endangered pallid sturgeon.  The Service concurred that with implemention of conservation measures, the project would not be likely to adversely affect the endangered least tern or threatened bald eagle.

The project is necessary to ensure a 9-foot navigation channel is maintained and to prevent groundings or collisions by barges.  Should a barge containing oil or other chemicals come in contact with the rock pinnacles or outcroppings, a major environmental disaster could occur. 

Due to drought conditions in the late 1980's, the Corps removed millions of tons or rock from the Grand Tower Reach and Thebes Reach of the MMR to maintain a 9-foot navigation channel.  The current prolonged drought conditions have led to record low water levels.  New technology utilized by the Corps indicates that the blasting in the late 1980's did not remove all the rock pinnacles and outcroppings from the channel.  As a result, the Corps is proposing to complete the task.

Prior to initiation of consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Corps conducted several meetings and conference calls with the Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri Department of Conservation in order to develop conservation measures for the pallid sturgeon and to develop a disposal plan that would minimize impacts to the species and possibly improve fisheries habitat.  The conservation measures should ensure that impacts to pallid sturgeon are minimized to the greatest extent possible.

The formal consultation for this project contributes the the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan and Strategy.  The pallid sturgeon is listed as a Species in Greatest Need of Conservation in Illinois and the Middle Mississippi River is a Priority Conservation Area.  The formal consultation contributes to the Streams Campaign Action #3: protect, restore and enhance near-stream and instream habitats and processes.  Additionally, part of the action area for the consultation falls within the Cape Hills Conservation Opportunity Area identified in the Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy.  The formal consultation contributes to the Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy by protecting existing mussels, native fish and invertebrates.


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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