For the past six years, the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance has been working on a habitat restoration project near Bay City, Wis., and last August, at a meeting of the River Resources Forum -- an interagency meeting for the Upper Mississippi River -- the group projected to start construction during the summer of 2021, but that start date has now been pushed back to the spring of 2022.

“In short, our selection as one of 10 projects nationwide to be included in a federally funded pilot program has complicated planning efforts due to unclear implementation guidelines,” said Riley Hince, executive director of the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance. “The global pandemic has further reduced staff capacity within the Corps of Engineers. The good news is that once the design and engineering work is finally complete, we will have more federal dollars funding local restoration.”

LPLA has promoted the project, which, in addition to dredging pools and access channels near Bay City, will use dredged materials from Reeds Landing to construct islands and peninsulas in the upper areas of Lake Pepin to help reduce wind and wave actions and promote better water quality.

To date, LPLA has raised $867,500 to help with the project.

“We will be watching the process closely over the next year to ensure all funds raised by LPLA can be used as intended within the appropriate timeline,” Hince said. “Our ability to obtain the endorsement of local municipalities, state and federal legislators and our partner agencies show the irrefutable value of having a local voice about the river. We will continue as that voice.”

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Hince added that anyone concerned about the project can help by contacting their U.S. representative to express support for the project and asking them to protect against any additional delays. In Minnesota, contact U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, P.O. Box 22116, Eagan, MN 55122, (651) 409-3006, angie.crag@mail.house.gov, and in Wisconsin, contact U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, 205 Fifth Ave S, Suite 400, La Crosse, WI 54601, (608) 728 - 2558, ron.kind@mail.house.gov.

For additional information about the restoration project, see LPLA’s website at www.lakepepinlegacyalliance.org or contact Hince at rylee@lakepepinlegacyalliance.org or by phone at 630-806-9909.