Corps to begin work on sandbar projects near Vermillion

Corps to begin work on sandbar projects near Vermillion
Contractors working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, will begin construction of three emergent sandbar habitat (ESH) complexes in the Missouri National Recreational River (MNRR) later this month. "These complexes will be constructed to provide nesting habitat for the least tern and piping plover, two bird species protected under the Endangered Species Act," said Omaha District Commander Col. David C. Press.

These projects are part of the Corps effort to implement recommendations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in its Biological Opinion on the Operation of the Missouri River Main Stem System. Construction will last through fall and winter months with a scheduled completion date of April 15, 2008. Timely completion will ensure the habitat will be in place when terns and plovers return to nest next spring.

For safety purposes, public access to construction and staging areas will be restricted, eliminating recreation and hunting opportunities during the construction period, Sept. 1 through April 15, 2008. "Public safety is the Corps number one concern," said Press.

One ESH complex will be construct4d at Missouri River Mile 791.5, near Wynot, NE. The other two complexes will be constructed south of Vermillion, near the Highway 19 Bridge. One of those will be constructed near Missouri River Mile 774, about two miles downstream of the bridge. The other will be constructed at Missouri River mile 777.5, about 1.5 miles upstream of the bridge and adjacent to the Frost Wilderness Game Production Area in South Dakota.

The sand used to construct the sandbars will be taken from the adjacent river bed at each location.

In addition to the planned ESH construction at River Mile 777.5, sediment from a historic river channel on the Frost property will be used as an alternative borrow source for the complex, resulting in the restoration of a 15-acre backwater connected to the Missouri River. The backwater will provide habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, fish and mussels, and will provide new public fishing and hunting opportunities at the Frost Wilderness Game Production Area.

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