Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Kaskaskia Eagle Fest a success

Nearly 300 people braved the cold and ice Feb. 1 for the 4th Annual Kaskaskia Eagle Fest at the Kaskaskia Lock & Dam in Modoc, Ill.

“Despite the weather we had a lot of enthusiastic visitors who were able to come out and make the Kaskaskia Eagle Fest a success,” Stephanie Vallett, park ranger with the St. Louis District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

Visitors had the opportunity to have a close-up encounter with Patriot, a rehabilitated bald eagle from the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Mo. The lone survivor after her family’s nest fell into floodwaters, Patriot sustained lung damage that leaves her unable to survive in the wild.

Bald eagles are commonly seen in the Midwest along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers during the winter months as they migrate to the south in search of open water.

On any given day during the winter, between 10 to nearly 40 eagles can be seen nesting, feeding or playing near the Kaskaskia Lock & Dam.

“The turbulence that is created below the dam provides open water and plenty of fish for the eagles,” Vallett said.

Visitors also had the opportunity to see eagles in their natural habitat atop the Kaskaskia Lock & Dam, view them through spotting scopes while on guided interpretative walks around the area, and learn more about eagles from presentations given by the World Bird Sanctuary, U.S. Fishand Wildlife and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.


The Kaskaskia Eagle Fest is just one of many eagle events throughout the St. Louis District this season. For more information about upcoming programs visit: 2014 Eagle Watch

St. Louis District Corps of Engineers weather closures

Snow and frigid temperatures at the Wappapello Lake
spillway, Dec. 11, 2013.
The St. Louis District area is under a Winter Weather Advisory with an expected accumulation of 6-9 inches of snow across the area. 

For the safety of our employees and the public the following projects will be closed until conditions improve: Lake Shelbyville, Mark Twain Lake and Wappapello Lake. 

For more information and updates on closings be sure to follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/teamsaintlouis

To view the current National Weather Service Advisory visit: http://1.usa.gov/e0Ijvn and for Winter Driving Tips visit: http://bit.ly/ub6KTf.

Please be safe out there!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Corps of Engineers to remove rock from Mississippi River channel

A barge moving on the Mississippi River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District will begin work Tuesday on the Middle
Mississippi River at Thebes, Ill., to remove rocks that pose a threat to navigation during low river stages.

Contractors working for the Corps will remove approximately 2,800 cubic yards of rock as a permanent improvement to the navigation channel over the next few months, with options for additional removal in future years. The rock removal project continues work begun last year when river levels dipped to near-record lows from St. Louis south to the Ohio River confluence.

The rocks are part of a large natural formation, most of which was removed in the late 1980s. With improvements in survey technology, the Corps discovered remaining outcroppings – referred to as pinnacles – along two stretches of the river near Grand Tower and Thebes, Ill. Last year the Corps removed approximately 1,000 cubic yards of rock.

The Corps of Engineers is responsible for providing a reliable channel for navigation nine feet deep and at least 300 feet wide, with additional width in river bends. Last year’s removal efforts focused primarily on providing adequate depth in the channel, while this year, work will provide the needed width for barge traffic to continue when the river narrows during low water.

River navigation is critical to the nation’s economy: more than 100 million tons of cargo passes through the Middle Mississippi River annually, including 60 percent of our nation’s agricultural exports.

The Corps is working with the U.S. Coast Guard and the barge industry to minimize the impact on river navigation. Work will occur during daylight hours and traffic is expected to be restricted initially to one-way traffic with a limit of 15 barges per tow and a no-wake restriction. Other restrictions may be needed, including anticipated part-time channel closures. Vessels in the area can use marine channel 13 to coordinate passing river traffic.

Rock removal is one of many operations the Corps and U.S. Coast Guard are undertaking along the river to maintain a safe channel for river navigation. Dredging has been ongoing since July to preserve the channel, as well as continued surveys and channel patrols to keep commerce safely moving on the Middle Mississippi.

Coast Guard, Corps and local safety officials remind anyone planning to be near the river that sandbars and places revealed by low water are unstable. Signage and other warning notices may not be immediately visible since many may have been placed when the river was at a higher stage. Anyone approaching the water at any time should remember to wear a life jacket.

For more information, visit www.mvs.usace.army.mil.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Corps to talk progress, future of Metro East levees


To download a copy of the flyer visit:
http://1.usa.gov/17SqXx2
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District will host two open houses this week to inform stakeholders and the public on the progress and future plans for the federal levee projects in the Metro East.

The 75.8-mile system of levees in the Metro East protects an 111,700-acre area including parts of Alton, East St. Louis, Wood River, Granite City, Cahokia and Columbia, Ill. More than 280,000 residents and workers are protected by these systems, as well as roughly $4.8 billion worth of property, industry and transportation infrastructure.

“We, along with our partners have been vigilant in reducing flood risks to the Metro East,” said Col. Christopher G. Hall, commander of the St. Louis District. “We have a long-term commitment to the lives, economy and communities behind the levees.”

To date, the Corps has invested more than $134 million toward lowering flood risk to the people and residents in the Metro East and built relationships with key stakeholder groups focused on restoring the levees.

“We can’t stress enough the importance of the progress being made to improve the Metro East Levees,” noted Rich Conner, chairman of the Levee Issues Alliance. “We want people to understand not just what is being done to improve the levees but also that the American Bottom is open for business."

The LIA is a coalition of business, civic organizations, community leaders and concerned citizens that has been a motivating and unifying voice for the local and federal levee projects.

The open houses will serve as a place for people to ask questions and gain information from technical experts regarding the federal levee projects in East St. Louis and Wood River, Ill., levee safety, permitting and regulatory programs. General information will also be provided on levee structure and stability, and the Corps’ levee inspection and rehabilitation program.

The open houses will be held at the following dates and locations:
November 13, 2013
Granite City Township Hall
2060 Delmar Ave. 

Granite City, Ill. 
4-6 p.m.

November 14, 2013
National Great Rivers Museum 

#2 Lock and Dam Way
Alton, Ill. 
4-6 p.m.

For additional information, contact the St. Louis District Public Affairs Office at (314) 331-8000.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to host Metro East levee open house events



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District will host two open houses in November to inform stakeholders and the public on the progress and future plans for the federal levee projects in the Metro East.
The 75.8-mile system of levees in the Metro East includes Wood River Drainage and Levee District, Metro East Sanitary District, Chain of Rocks and Prairie Du Pont and Fish Lake Levee Districts. The levee system protects an 111,700-acre area. More than 280,000 residents and workers are protected by these systems, as well as roughly $4.8 billion worth of property, industry and transportation infrastructure.
The Corps of Engineers is working on the rehabilitation of the aging levees, as well as design deficiency corrections for this critical infrastructure in partnership the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council and the local levee districts. To date, the Corps has invested more than $134 million toward lowering flood risk to the people and residents in the Metro East.
The open houses will serve as a place for people to ask questions and gain information from technical experts regarding the federal levee projects in East St. Louis and Wood River, Ill., levee safety, permitting and regulatory programs. General information will also be provided on levee structure and stability, and the Corps’ levee inspection and rehabilitation program.
The open houses will be held at the following dates and locations:
November 13, 2013
Granite City Township Hall
2060 Delmar Ave.
Granite City, Ill.
4-6 p.m.
November 14, 2013
National Great Rivers Museum
#2 Lock and Dam Way, Alton, Ill.
4-6 p.m.
For additional information, contact the St. Louis District Public Affairs Office at (314) 331-8000. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

National Great Rivers Museum complex shares river story


National Great Rivers Museum celebrating 10 Years
Ten years ago this October, the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton, Ill., opened to tell the story of the Mississippi River—its history, its wildlife, and the complexity of balancing the river’s many uses.

This river-side museum is adjacent to the river’s largest lock and dam, the Melvin Price Locks and Dam complex and across the river from a massive wildlife refuge that’s also managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District. The museum offers an unusual opportunity to learn about how humans relate to the river while actually doing that very thing.
Particularly popular is the chance to view wildlife— the hundreds to thousands of trumpeter swans, eagles and nesting white pelicans that frequent the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Mo. The complex of 3,700 acres of marshes, bays, interpretive opportunities and viewing celebrates its 25th  anniversary this year, while the museum celebrates its 10th.
Over the years, people have flocked
 here, and so has wildlife, bringing even
 more people. Tens of thousands (of both) visit each year, with human visitation growing with new opportunities like the on-premises Audubon Center at Riverlands. More than 80,000 people visited the museum alone in 2012, and 4.1 million to the rivers project office grounds—48 percent of those say “sightseeing” was the reason for their visit.
The partnership allows the Audubon staff to focus
 on bird education and conservation, and the Corps staff to focus on connecting people to the river, says Charlie Deutsch, supervisory wildlife biologist at the Corps’ River Project office. The agency’s multiple missions are also on display—never more clearly than from the tour that lets you walk atop the dam, 80 feet above the river, and see the distant miles of restored wetlands and prairies. The Corps has even created wildlife habitat for endangered terns atop repurposed barges.
Inside the museum, visitors get a close-up look at some of the river’s more common and unusual fish, listen to bird calls and drive a towboat through a
simulated river experience.

Also on display, and covered in regular tours, is information on how soil is made and erodes and how river models help scientists make important decisions affecting the river. At one station, visitors can estimate how much fresh water their household uses a day and at another visitors can learn of ways the Corps seeks to help protect the region from acts of nature like flooding.
For more visit: Our Mississippi

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Veteran’s research shows new value for old maps

Army veteran works to restore and preserve historical map
The tables of the Veterans Curation Program lab in the St. Louis District are usually covered in artifacts
and documents from the vast archaeological collections of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps has a responsibility to preserve cultural resources of the nation, and the three Veterans Curation Program labs have employed and trained more than 120 veterans in archiving and digitizing the Corps' huge collection of materials since 2009.

For Nicholas Genthon, an Army veteran and criminal justice student at St. Louis University, it was a piece of the Corps' history that grabbed his attention and started a research project that connects the past and future through digital archives and modern mapping technology.

Genthon worked in the Veterans Curation Program as part of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center's summer internship program and was helping restore of a collection of documents from Harry S. Truman Reservoir on the Osage River in Missouri. The collection of documents, images, and maps were given to the Veterans Curation Program lab by the Corps' Kansas City District for restoration and preservation.

"The original plans included all of the historical context: the costs for everything, where towns and train tracks were relocated, even photos of places that are now under the lake," Genthon said. "I wondered how much it had changed since then."

Comparing the maps to satellite images, he could see changes in the landscape. Erosion had turned some peninsulas into islands. With changes in the banks immediately evident, Genthon wanted to find out if sediment in the reservoir was accumulating as expected in the original plans.

Genthon spent nearly three months working in partnership with NGRREC and the Corps of Engineers in St. Louis and Kansas City.

As part of his work, Genthon digitized and scanned the original maps, converting what were paper maps into a digital file useful in modern Geographic Information System software. Once in the GIS software, he was able to create overlays to put on current imagery of the reservoir.

"The level of detail from the original maps blew my mind," he said. "Compared to the satellite maps, they perfectly fit in."

With help learning GIS software from Dr. Mark Smith, an archaeologist with the Corps' St. Louis District, Genthon used raw survey data taken by contractors in 2011, the digitized maps, and modern maps to create a 3-D model of the lake bed to compare to the original stream bed. He found that sediment was accumulating faster than expected.

"The original maps and plans had an expected 100-year life cycle for sedimentation," he said. "I found sedimentation was at the 183rd year of that 100-year life cycle."

While Genthon acknowledges more study of the problem is needed, his project highlights the potential for digital archiving and GIS software.

"GIS is going to be the bread and butter for a lot of government agencies very soon, and the digitizing of these archives to a publicly accessible forum will make it so much easier to do a project like this," he said.
The use of the rehabilitated archives in current research is one more positive outcome from the Veterans Curation Program in addition to employing and training veterans and preserving the nation's cultural heritage.

"We're showing how the Corps can use these archival collections in our operations," said Andrea Adams, project manager for the Veterans Curation Program and Genthon's mentor for the project. "By having a digital collection, you can get this wealth of data out there to use."

Genthon finished his time along with the other members of the Veterans Curation Program St. Louis lab at their graduation Sept. 27. He plans to return to school finish his degree. While some of his skills as an Army intelligence analyst helped spark the research project, it's the outcome that will help him in the future.

"I'm prior Army intelligence, so I'm used to asking questions and I'm naturally curious as to why things are the way they are," he said. "My experience with the Corps and GIS on this project will make me a lot more marketable when I look for a job."