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Environmental Assessment (1 MB)
Lost Mound Unit, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge Environmental Assessment
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has accepted certain management rights and some land at the former Savanna Army Depot, which is located along the Mississippi River in northwestern Illinois.
The Savanna Army Depot officially closed on March 18, 2000, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act. The former Depot included a total of 13,062 acres that have been transferred to four agencies: the Service; the Local Redevelopment Authority; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
On September 26, 2003, the Department of Defense agreed to transfer 9,404 acres of land to become the Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. A total of 3,022 acres was actually transferred in fee at the time of the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement. The remaining acreage will be transferred in the future as parcels are certified clean from environmental contaminants. In the meantime, the Service will manage wildlife and habitat on all 9,404 acres.
The name "Lost Mound" refers to local folklore of a nearby post-glacial hill, or mound, that provides a backdrop for the sand prairie uplands of the Savanna Depot. The mound did not appear on early maps of the region, however the "lost" mound has since been found and is featured on recent topographical maps.
The Lost Mound Unit was included in a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) completed by the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in 2006. The CCP is intended to outline how the Refuge will fulfill its legal purpose and contribute to the National Wildlife Refuge System's wildlife, habitat and public use goals. The plan articulates management goals for the next 15 years and specifies the objectives and strategies needed to accomplish these goals. While the planned future condition is long-term, we anticipate that the plan will be updated every 5 to 10 years based on information gained through monitoring habitat and wildlife, as well as recreational usage.
The former Savanna Depot site has several important natural resource qualities. They include:
- Fifty-five hundred acres of forested backwaters with sloughs, lakes and flowing side channels provide habitat for a diversity of fish, shellfish, wildlife and plants.
- Four thousand acres of sand prairie/savanna provide habitat for many species of migratory birds and resident wildlife.
- Many threatened or endangered species use habitat on the site, including 47 state-listed species and two federally-listed species.
- The area includes the longest natural dune system in Illinois (7.5 miles). The system extends 70 feet above the Mississippi River.
- The State of Illinois designated a 780-acre mussel sanctuary within the area proposed for transfer to the National Wildlife Refuge System.
- Three pairs of nesting Bald Eagles and more than 500 Bald Eagles were counted in a survey.
- A Great Blue Heron rookery with more than 200 nests is located within the river bottomlands.
- The Savanna Army Depot was identified for closure by Congress in July 1995 under the Base Realignment and Closure Act. It officially closed on March 18, 2000.
- The Depot was used as an artillery firing site from 1918-1919 and as an ammunition recycling, storage and testing facility between 1919 and 2000. The majority of munitions shot during the artillery testing were blanks because the mission was to test fire the artillery guns made at the Rock Island Arsenal. However, many rounds of high explosive ordnance were fired, including 105mm and 155mm shells.
- The Service entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Army to manage 9,404 acres as an overlay refuge while environmental clean-up continues. Fee title land transfer will only occur after environmental clean-up is completed. Lost Mound acreage has been divided into parcels so that clean-up can be prioritized and tracts transferred as clean-up is completed.
- Because unexploded ordnance is present, the backwaters are closed to the public and, until clean-up is completed, only non-ground disturbing management activities can occur on much of the future Refuge.
- The Service is pursuing the clean-up of unexploded ordnance to allow increased management and public recreational use. Total clean-up of all contamination, including unexploded ordnance, is estimated to be $350 million.