Upper Mississippi River Program

Improving bird habitat, water quality, and natural systems throughout the Mississippi River floodplain in southeast Minnesota

Photo: Ted Bobosh

The Mississippi River is the backbone of the Mississippi Flyway which serves as a major aerial highway for 60% of North America's birds. An incredibly diverse ecosystem lines the Mississippi River, including wetlands, marshes, sloughs, channels, bottomland forest, and prairies. However, those systems have been altered by agriculture, locks and dams, and levees. Today, much of the Mississippi is a narrow window of habitat in a predominant sea of agriculture. In some areas, up to 80% of the original forests have been lost. For Audubon scientists, the threat to birds along the River from past and future impacts is clear and urgent. 

With your help, we aim to maintain bottomland forests, restore islands and depth diversity, and re-establish more natural water levels. These efforts will help bird species like Wood Ducks, Cerulean Warblers, Prothonotary Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrush, and many others. 

We are currently identifying large tracts of existing forest and overlapping Important Bird Areas. We are working with partners to determine priority sites to restore within those IBAs. We expect the restored habitat will become critical refuges for birds. 

Restoring Floodplain Forests
Upper Mississippi River Program

Restoring Floodplain Forests

Floodplain forests are unique habitats found along river and stream corridors that contain a diversity of plants that can survive repeated and extensive flooding.

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Advocating for Drawdowns
Upper Mississippi River Program

Advocating for Drawdowns

By changing the way dams are operated, we can mimic natural water levels on the Upper Mississippi River.

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Improving Lake Pepin Habitat
Upper Mississippi River Program

Improving Lake Pepin Habitat

The lake can be managed to maximize bird, fish, and wildlife habitat.

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