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Posted 5/25/2016

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By 1LT Erica Mitchell, Public Affairs Officer, Detroit District


The U.S Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District and its partners celebrated the completion of two Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects, April 2016 in Wisconsin.

The Menomonee River Ecosystem Restoration Project and the Pike River Ecosystem Restoration Project have been completed through the continued partnership and environmental commitment of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the village of Mt. Pleasant, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Menomonee River Ecosystem Restoration Project began in September 2014 in an effort to restore fish passage and access to historic spawning habitats. The project consisted of removing 2,900 feet of concrete that had lined the channel along the Menomonee River since the 1960s. Once removed, a natural riverbed was placed. This natural riverbed has opened access to over 37 miles and 125 acres of high value, upstream, shallow wetlands that various fish species use for spawning. The project also provides connectivity between previously restored sections of the Menomonee River, while reducing the risk of flooding. A recreational sport fishery has also been restored through this project, which extends along 17 miles of river and 20 miles of tributary in one of Wisconsin’s most populated and diverse watersheds.

In 2014, the district also partnered with the village of Mt. Pleasant to award the Pike River Ecosystem Restoration project for tributary restoration and protection. This project restores and enhances a low-flow channel, 43 acres of wetlands and 30 acres of prairie land. It also implements in-stream improvements to habitats for approximately one mile of the Pike River by adding natural stream features such as meanders, shelter areas, and deep riffle pool complexes that provide a diverse habitat. The project significantly enhances aquatic macro-invertebrates, reduces the suspended solids of phosphorous and nitrogen, and improves water quality through overland filtration.

During the ceremonies, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Sellers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District commander, expressed his excitement of seeing the completion of the projects.

“Often, when I visit a project site, I’m surrounded by concrete, steel and huge machinery, so it’s a joy to come here and enjoy the serenity of this beautifully restored natural area,” said LTC Sellers. “The Army Corps of Engineers is the nation’s environmental engineer with one of the largest environmental restoration and environmental stability roles in the federal government.”

The funding for the $6.3 million Menomonee River Ecosystem Restoration Project is a 65 percent federal, 35 percent MMSD cost-share. The $5.7 million Pike River Ecosystem Project funding, also, came from a 65 percent federal, 35 percent Village of Mt. Pleasant cost-share. For both projects, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) contributed most of the federal funding. Federal agencies use GLRI resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long-term goals. By combining GLRI resources with agency base budgets, the Army Corps and other federal agencies work with nonfederal partners to implement protection and restoration projects.

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The Menomonee River Ecosystem Restoration Project construction underway as workers remove 2,900 feet of concrete that had lined the channel along the Menomonee River since the 1960s. Photo courtsey of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District

The Pike River Ecosystem Restoration Project moved over 600,000 cubic yards of material to restore and enhance a low flowing channel. In-stream improvements made to the Pike River help provide diverse habitats in the riverbed. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District.