The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking comments until May 11 on a proposal to construct a habitat rehabilitation project at the head of Lake Pepin. The project, located in Pierce County, Wis., will use dredged material removed from Reads Landing Dredged Material Placement Site in Lower Pool 4 just north of Wabasha, Minn.

USACE selected the location in conjunction with other interested parties including the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance that proposed the project.

“The current project area was prioritized as the most likely to see a beneficial shift in habitat based on the type of work that we could do,” said Rylee Main, executive director of LPLA. “For example, constructing peninsulas to break up the wind and wave action in that area, given the turbidity of the water, had the most chance of success.”

Main explained that if the constructed peninsulas and islands can reduce wind and wave action, sediment that has already settled won’t get resuspended. Dredging work in the area will create some deeper pockets that will allow fish to overwinter and will create a channel to an existing harbor in Bay City, opening access to recreational opportunities in addition to habitat opportunities, according to Main.

The Corps of Engineers has released a draft environmental assessment for the project. Because of the pandemic, they have also posted a presentation that would normally be made live. Both of those are available at www.mvp.usace.army.mil/Home/PublicNotices.aspx.

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“The proposed project was planned in collaboration with the Wisconsin and Minnesota departments of natural resources and other partners and would enhance and restore backwater habitat in Lake Pepin,” according to a written statement from the Army Corps of Engineers. “A complex of four peninsulas, overwintering dredged areas, water level management features and shoreline protection would be constructed to improve habitat for fish and wildlife. Features were designed to reduce the negative impacts of sediment on aquatic plants and fish, as well as to create and protect floodplain forest and wetlands for migratory birds and other wildlife.”

After the comment period, the USACE will write a final report and develop an agreement with the Wisconsin DNR to manage the project. Main anticipates work could begin as early as spring 2021.

Questions on the project or comments on the EA can be directed to Steve Clark, project biologist, at 651-290-5278 or Steven.J.Clark@usace.army.mil by May 11. Please address all formal written correspondence on this project to the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Regional Planning and Environment Division North, 180 Fifth St. E., Suite 700, St. Paul, MN 55101.