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Mississippi River

Reconnecting Rivers and Floodplains

Another major effort being undertaken by the Great Rivers Partnership involves the reconnection of floodplain areas to the rivers that once supplied them with water, sediment and natural nutrients. Levees in place along much of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers were designed to prevent seasonal floodwaters from spreading onto the rivers' floodplains. While important for converting floodplain wetlands into cropland, this practice reduced important habitat for animals and plants requiring access to floodplain conditions for some portion of their life cycle.

One of the largest private wetland restoration projects in the United States currently is under way at the Conservancy's 7,100-acre Emiquon Preserve in central Illinois. In a landmark collaboration, the Conservancy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intend to study the effects of a managed reconnection between the Illinois River and its floodplain and determine the benefits the project would provide to conservation targets.

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