Restored Wisconsin River Provides Home for Wildlife,

Reduces Flooding

Restoring the natural curves and riverbank of the Pike River in Wisconsin has reduced flooding and erosion, while increasing fish and wildlife habitat.

Description

The Pike River flows through southeastern Wisconsin, just four miles west of Racine before emptying out into Lake Michigan just north of Kenosha, about 10 miles from the Wisconsin-Illinois state line. The river serves as spawning ground for fish in Lake Michigan, as well as providing habitat for a variety of aquatic life. A one-mile stretch of the Pike River just outside of Mt. Pleasant, Wis., has been subject to frequent flash flooding and eroding banks. Runoff and sediment from the surrounding landscape was being drawn into the river, polluting fish and invertebrate habitat upstream while also contributing to runoff entering Lake Michigan. To stop this pollution from taking place, the U.S. Army Corps restored the riverbank by re-establishing the stream’s natural curves in several places to slow the flow of water. Plants along the shore were added to provide stability and habitat. Boulders were placed strategically in the river to further slow the flow of water while also creating habitat for clams, snails, mayflies, beetles, crayfish, and the fish that eat them. The Army Corps restored native prairie and wetland habitat that contribute to flood mitigation by absorbing water and slowing the flow of runoff.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Erosion
  • Sediment buildup
  • Degraded fish and wildlife habitat
  • Flooding

PIKE RIVER PROJECT

river flowing through grasslands

The Pike River after restoration widened the banks and curved the river to help reduce flooding. Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Results and Accomplishments

The restoration of a one-mile stretch of the Pike River has resulted in an increase in fish habitat, while also diminishing the impact of flooding. The complex and varied habitat provides a home for fish and other aquatic life like snails, mayflies, caddis flies, beetles, midges, and crayfish. On either side of the Pike River, the landscape has also been restored, with 30 acres of prairie and 43 acres of wetlands also contributing to slow the flow of water into the river.