Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
NWR Executives Tour the Middle Mississippi River
Midwest Region, June 29, 2007
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Nita Fuller holds a shovelnose sturgeon while hearing about sturgeon issues on the Middle Mississippi River.
- FWS photo by Joyce Collins 
Nita Fuller holds a shovelnose sturgeon while hearing about sturgeon issues on the Middle Mississippi River.

- FWS photo by Joyce Collins 

- Photo Credit: n/a

The Middle Mississippi River today isn’t the river it was in the days of Mark Twain.  But that didn’t stop guests from doing a little exploring.  Today’s river has higher levees to protect farm lands and more dikes to maintain a navigation channel for shipping.  These improvements were beneficial but also come at an ecological cost.  These alterations to the habitat, along with other issues, have resulted in declines in fishery and wildlife resources in the area.

A visit to the area by Geoff Haskett, Assistant Director, National Wildlife Refuge System, and Nita Fuller,  Assistant Regional Director for Refuges, provided an opportunity to see and discuss some of these changes. 

The tour began with a stop by the Middle Mississippi River NWR headquarters.  There, Refuge Manager Robert Cail, Joyce Collins, Marion Ecological Services Sub-Office, and Rob Simmonds, Carterville FRO, spoke about the major partnerships and cross-program efforts underway to improve conditions in the Middle Mississippi River.  From there they took to the water for a boat ride down the river, captained by John Magera, Crab Orchard NWR and former Refuge Manager for the Middle Mississippi River NWR.

This gave the group a chance to get up close and personal with the challenges and the solutions being developed to address them along the river. 

The group watched as chevron dikes were being constructed.  These U-shaped dikes are designed to create scour holes and accrete sediment for island development as well as divert river flow to side channels. 

Installing chevrons, notching and uprooting dikes, and using hard points which affect bottom diversity are several examples of cooperative projects underway with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve habitat while maintaining a navigation channel.

We also discussed sturgeon issues while guests held shovelnose sturgeon for the first time. The fish were collected courtesy of Carterville FRO’s Matt Mangan, Nathan Richards, and Matt Wegener.  Fortunately the group didn’t have any direct hits from silver carp, but did have them jumping in the background as they discussed challenges in addressing Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species. 

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