Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Marion, Illinois Ecological Services Staff Facilitate Peer Review of Pallid Sturgeon Report
Midwest Region, March 22, 2007
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Drawing of pallid sturgeon.
- courtesy graphic
Drawing of pallid sturgeon.

- courtesy graphic

- Photo Credit: n/a

In April 2000, the Fish and Wildlife Service completed formal consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers for the Operation and Maintenance of the 9-Foot Navigation Channel on the Upper Mississippi River Project. 

The Service concluded that, as proposed, the project would result in jeopardizing the continued existence of the endangered pallid sturgeon.  As a result, the Service provided the Corps with a Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) that, if implemented, would preclude jeopardy to the pallid sturgeon. 

The RPA included four parts as follows: 1) Conduct a pallid sturgeon habitat study in the Middle Mississippi River (MMR); 2) Facilitate development of a Pallid Sturgeon Conservation and Restoration Plan, which would include population and habitat monitoring; 3) Implementation of a long-term aquatic habitat restoration program in the MMR; and, 4) Implementation of short-term aquatic habitat restoration measures and studies reasonably expected to benefit pallid sturgeon (e.g., pilot projects).

To fulfill the requirement to conduct a habitat study for pallid sturgeon and develop baseline population information, the Corps contracted with the Engineer Research and Development Center, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the Missouri Department of Conservation to conduct a study titled "Habitat Preference and Demographics of Pallid Sturgeon Populations in the Middle Mississippi River". 

Research was conducted from 2002 to 2006.  In October of 2006, the Corps provided the Service with a Draft Report containing the results of this extensive research and data collection effort and requested review of the document.  Staff from the Marion, Illinois Sub-Office for Ecological Services extensively reviewed the document and facilitated a peer review by pallid sturgeon and fisheries experts from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.  Comments were then submitted to the Corps in a letter dated March 22, 2007. 

Once the draft report is finalized, a significant milestone from the RPA will have been met.  The data and information from the report will be invaluable in developing the Pallid Sturgeon Conservation and Restoration Plan for the MMR. 

Completion of the pallid sturgeon research contributes to both the Illinois Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Strategy and the Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy.  The Illinois Department of Natural Resources lists pallid sturgeon as a Species in Greatest Need of Conservation in Illinois and the MMR is a Priority Conservation Area.  The Missouri Cape Hill Conservation Opportunity Area is located within the MMR.  The conservation strategies for this Conservation Opportunity Area includes protection of existing mussels, native fish and invertebrates.  Data collected for the pallid sturgeon will be utilized to protect this native fish species. 

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