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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Think big thoughts
(pg 2 of 2)

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Among the big plans in A River that Works:

  • Move or remove many levees to allow the channel to reconnect with the floodplain. Periodic inundation and retreat of water from the floodplain will increase the diversity and productivity of plant and animal communities in the aquatic-terrestrial transition zone.
  • Operate dams in ways to mimic the seasonal flood pulse that inundated backwaters and then left them dry. This cycle will allow backwater sediments to consolidate, shallow-water plants to regain a foothold, and waterfowl and fish to once again inhabit river backwaters.
  • Reopen side channels and create islands and shoals to increase the diversity of habitat for aquatic organisms.
  • Restore flows that would maintain the channel and cut meanders to reduce the need for dredging and create additional habitat for aquatic organisms.
  • Open dams or construct fish passageways to restore the movement of native fish up and down the length of the river.
  • Block the migration of exotics (such as the zebra mussel, European ruffe, and round goby) entering the Illinois River tributary from Lake Michigan via the Chicago Ship Canal.

Big dreams-or so these proposals would have seemed a few years ago. But A River that Works is very much at the heart of discussions among state and federal agencies about how to better manage the Mississippi River. A river that has been a poster child of how to strangle and diminish a stream may serve as a large-scale example of how to restore one.

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