National Wildlife Refuge System
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An aerial photo shows some of the nine new man-made islands at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge
An aerial photo shows some of the nine new man-made islands at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge, part of the habitat restoration project there. The refuge is holding a contest to name the islands.
Credit: USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Name That Island

You may never see your name in lights, but with luck you could view it on a map. Just think up a winning moniker for one of nine new man-made islands at Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and submit your entry by April 9. No, you can’t name the islands after yourself or a friend — no proper names allowed. But you can suggest a name that draws on the area's habitat, wildlife, geology, geography or history.

The nine islands are part of a long–running wildlife habitat restoration project at the refuge, a breeding and resting place for migratory birds that runs through four states — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois — along 260 miles of the Mississippi River. Fifty percent of the world's canvasback ducks spend time in the area. Completed last year by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, the islands replace natural islands washed away after the river was fitted with navigation locks and dams in the 1930s. Additional partners in this effort include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and local interests. Since Congress authorized the restoration program in 1986, more than 40 habitat projects have been completed, affecting more than 72,000 acres of habitat.

All nine islands are designed to restore habitat for migratory birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals. Some of the islands are already covered in abundant low vegetation. Migrating waterfowl, such as tundra swans, bald eagles, ducks and geese have stopped to rest and feed on the new plants. The islands are among 26 to be added with another 11 planned for completion by 2012.

To request a contest entry form, e-mail Kara Zwickey (kara_zwickey@fws.gov), Paula Ogden-Muse (paula_ogden-muse@fws.gov) or call 608-783-8405. Contestants may submit only one entry per island. This is the refuge’s third island-naming contest since 1990; other islands were named Slingshot (for a Y–shaped property), Sunfish, Greenwing, Eagle and Pasque (for a local flower).

For more information: http://midwest.fws.gov/UpperMississippiRiver/ or 507-452-4232.


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