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Pike to see new fish passage with dam projec

February 22, 2022   My Journal Courier

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Journal Courier – Jacksonville, IL – 2/22/22 – Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has secured $97 million for a dam project near Pike County that will lead to a new fish ramp along the Mississippi River.


The construction will be near Lock and Dam 22 near Gardner Camp in Pike County and Saverton, Missouri.


Corps spokesman Allen Marshall said the project creates a new fish passageway.


"It creates a means for fish to travel upriver and helps with the size of fish populations in the area," Marshall said. "The benefit of the project is ecosystem restoration. The project will provide the means for fish to access the upstream mainstream river and tributary habitats, resulting in an increase of size and distribution of native migratory fish populations, returning the river to pre-lock and dam conditions from a fish habitat standpoint."


The fish passage includes construction of a 200-foot-wide rock ramp fishway, an ice/debris barrier, bridge and stoplogs.


The new construction is part of the $895 million Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program project, which was funded in January by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


Blake Roderick, director of Pike County Farm Bureau, said the county was part of the program trying to get funding for rehabilitation projects.


"In 2002 we were part of the group trying to get money for these types of projects, but they never were funded. The money was never approved until now," Roderick said.


Roderick said the project will be good for the fish population.


"During low water, one dam on the Pike County side makes it hard for fish to pass," he said. "This will make a fish ladder to allow fish to pass freely. We get a lock and dam and they get a fish ladder. The projects are partly navigational and partly environmental."


The Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program project focuses on the Upper Mississippi River System, in hopes of maintaining the river for both economic and environmental purposes.


"This is the first time the program has received any funding," Marshall said. "The timeline is still being determined but, once construction begins, the project should take three to five years to complete."


Prior to deciding on the passageway, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a feasibility study to determine the needs of the river to keep it economically, environmentally and socially friendly, according to the organization's website.


During the study, the organization reviewed eight locks and 348 miles of the Illinois waterway and 29 locks and 854 miles of the Upper Mississippi River project, before prioritizing projects for funding.