Restored Wisconsin River Provides Home for Wildlife, Reduces Flooding

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

Project Name: Pike River Project

Location: Mt. Pleasant, Wis.

The Pike River prior to restoration was channelized and prone to flooding during heavy rains. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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.

Approximate Cost: $6.7 million some of which came from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Resource Challenges Addressed: Erosion, sedimentation, degraded fish and wildlife habitat, flooding

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

Key Partners: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Village of Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Types of Jobs Created: Heavy equipment operators, landscape architects, general laborers, construction workers

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.

Website: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Portals/69/docs/PPPM/Environmental/GLRI/Wisconsin/GLRI_pike_rvr_2016.pdf

Originally published on: June 14, 2017

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