10 December 2009

Project Provides Wetland Habitat for Missouri Valley Birds

A recently completed project at Langdon Bend is creating wetland habitat for the benefit of a variety of birds which occur along the Missouri River.

The project — a partnership of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission — created three wetland cells, and was completed in November 2009.

Berms were created to increase the extent of wetland habitat in association with the Missouri River Mitigation Project, according to Matthew S. Krajewski, an engineer with the Corps. The cost of constructing the earthen berms necessary to retain water to create wetlands, was $1,685,495, according to Krajewski, and financed by the federal agency.

"The completed project consists of three separate wetland cells totaling 220 acres," said Mike Remund, a NGPC biologist. "Each cell contains a well, electric motor and pump capable of pumping approximately 1000 gallons per minute. All cells are diked and contain water control structures to allow moist soil management."

Diagram of the wetland creation project at Langdon Bend W.M.A.
Image courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers.

A variety of birds are expected to benefit from the project, Remund said. This will include migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, and other species which utilize wetland habitats along the river. The wetlands will be managed in a manner to benefit all birds, not just migratory waterfowl.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, which manages the 1312-acre Langdon Bend W.M.A. three miles south of Brownville Nebraska, recently completed the installation of electric pumps to provide water for the wetland cells built on the floodplain of the river. The installation of the pumps and operational costs was paid from income derived from leasing agricultural crop-land at the site.

A formal operational plan is to be developed, in a cooperative effort by the ACE and NGPC, said Remund. "NGPC biologists will be responsible for making decisions regarding pumping operations. Generally we will be pumping in February to accommodate spring migration and then again in late September-October for the fall migration."

The pumps were being used for the first time in late autumn 2009.

Langdon Bend was originally acquired by the Army Corps of Engineers as a mitigation site. In 2000, the Corps completed construction of a backwater area by excavating fill from a former river chute to provide shallow water habitat.

The NGPC manages the site through a license agreement with the Corps.

Neither agency plans to monitor how birds will be using the created habitat. However, as the entire tract is now open for public use, visits by area birders would help determine which species occur, and indicate the how the project has been helpful for wild birds of the region.

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