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Middle Mississippi River
National Wildlife Refuge

pair of canvasback ducks on the water
1293 Rocky Hollow Road
Rockwood, IL   62280
E-mail: middlemiss@fws.gov
Phone Number: 618-763-4420
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Waterfowl such as canvasbacks feed and rest at the refuge during migration.
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This reach of the Mississippi receives the full watershed of the Missouri River, and therefore is many times more muddy and swift than the Upper Mississippi River.

Over the past century and a half, man has changed the character of the river and its floodplain, clearing forests for agriculture and erecting tall levees near either bank to protect agricultural, commercial and residential interests in the floodplain. Navigation improvements known as "wing dikes" have narrowed, deepened and straightened the river, creating land from areas that once were secondary channels and sandbars. These new lands on the unprotected side of the main levee systems were eventually cleared for agriculture as well, and all were severely affected by the great flood of 1993, and by subsequent floods.

Following the devastation brought by the flood of 1993, Congress appropriated money for the Emergency Wetland Reserve Program of the Department of Agriculture and for the Fish and Wildlife Service to assist with purchasing property from landowners who had been plagued by flooding and wanted to dispose of their flood-prone property. In 1995, four locations in the Middle Mississippi were designated for purchase by the Mark Twain Refuge.

An environmental assessment evaluated the restoration and preservation of 11,400 acres of floodplain habitat containing unprotected wetlands, croplands, and aquatic areas along the Middle Mississippi River between St. Louis, Missouri, and Cairo, Illinois. To date, the Service has purchased a total of 4,075 acres -1,224 acres on Harlow Island, 2,770 acres on Wilkinson Island and less than 100 acres on Meissner Island.

In 2000, the Mark Twain Refuge reorganized into four separate refuges in order to provide the public with more easily recognized units of the larger refuge complex. Three divisions that had previously been managed by the Mark Twain headquarters and the Annada District became Middle Miss Refuge. The refuge is actively working with state, Federal and Non-Governmental partners to acquire other flood-prone parcels in the vicinity of these three sites and other units over time.

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