The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT), will temporarily close portions of the 1,601-acre Elwood Bottoms Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Site/Wildlife Area in the next few months for construction of the Corps' St. Joe Levee Raise Project. The temporary closure is to ensure the safety of construction workers and the public.
Site visitors should expect increased vehicle and heavy equipment traffic and area hunters should be cautious of what's down range when hunting. The Elwood Bottoms site is part of the Corps' Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Project; onsite management is conducted by KDWPT.
The R471-460 Unit of the St. Joe levee system is located on the right bank running parallel and west of the Missouri River. Unit R471-460 provides flood risk management benefits to the cities of Elwood and Wathena, Kan., as well as the Rosecrans Memorial Airport and Missouri Air National Guard facilities, along with significant agricultural property and unincorporated areas. The Unit also crosses the Elwood Bottoms Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Site/Wildlife Area.
During the Missouri River Flood of 1993, the right bank unit overtopped and breached, causing flooding to homes, businesses and infrastructure. At the request of local levee districts, a review of the St. Joe levees was initiated in 1999 to evaluate the existing level of flood damage reduction and determine alternatives for possible improvement.
The feasibility report was published in September 2006 and evaluated improvement alternatives using a risk-based analysis, including the no-action plan. The recommended plan calls for raising approximately 14 mi. of Unit R471-460 up to 3.5 ft. above the existing elevation, as well as adding earthen berms on the landward side of the levee.
The levee raise will require placing and properly compacting up to 400,000 cu. yds. of earthen material on areas South of Highway 36. In the approved 2006 feasibility report/environmental assessment and 2019 supplemental environmental assessment, a plan was developed to excavate the earthen material from areas riverward of the existing levee system and South of Highway 36.
The earthen material will be removed in a manner that will enhance and expand existing wetlands, remove accumulated sediment from the floodplain improving floodplain connectivity and eradicating areas of invasive reed canary grass. While construction will temporarily impact fish and wildlife resources and public use, habitat conditions should improve over the long term and meet mitigation project goals of offsetting impacts of the BSNP.
A construction contract to perform the levee raise, which will take approximately two years, has been awarded to M CON LLC of Wathena, Kan. The site will be posted, and work is set to begin in spring of 2020.
For more information, visit www.nwo.usace.army.mil/mrrp/ and ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Locations/Wildlife-Areas/Northeast/Elwood.