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.
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk Photo: David Mitrou, Great Backyard Bird Count

Many species of birds, including the golden Prothonotary Warbler, the secretive Red-shouldered Hawk, and the sweet-melodied Cerulean Warbler make their nests in floodplain forests. Along the Upper Mississippi River, these forests are under threat. Locks and dams create artificially high water levels, and invasive species prevent the natural regeneration of trees. If action is not taken now, much of the existing forest could convert to reed canary grass, an aggressive invasive plant that provides no habitat for forest-dependent birds.

  • Audubon has a full-time “boots on the ground” Forest Ecologist who is working with partners to implement restoration projects. 
  • We are completing restoration projects by controlling invasive species and planting trees. 
  • We are advancing the science around floodplain forest restoration and its effects on birds by working with partners to evaluate restoration methods. 

With your help we can continue this important research, restore hundreds more acres each year, and maintain the technical expertise needed for this important work. Donate today or learn more about the important work we're doing to improve water quality and to restore and protect bird habitat below. 

Audubon Minnesota Floodplain Forest Projects: 

Funding support through LSOHC, LCCMR, McKnight, Aveda, and USFWS

Mississippi River Floodplain Forest Restoration made possible by: 

Clean Water Land and Legacy funding is used for project implementation, including site preparation, controlling invasive species, purchasing and planting trees, and post planting weed control.  Up to 20% of the grant is used for professional staff time to coordinate and implement projects.

Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund is used to conduct the LCCMR study of reed canary grass control and tree regeneration methods.  The research portion is sub-contracted to the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.  Approximately 20% is used for Audubon professional staff time to coordinate the project and implement the restoration treatments.

McKnight Foundation funding is used for professional staff time to oversee and implement Audubon’s floodplain forest restoration program, and to implement floodplain restoration projects in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Aveda Corporation funding is used to fund professional staff time and to implement floodplain restoration projects in Iowa.

US Fish and Wildlife Service – Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge funding is used to cost share salary for Audubon’s professional Forest Ecologist position.  This position oversees forest restoration projects within the National Wildlife Refuge and on other public lands along the Upper Mississippi River. 


Saving Floodplain Forests

Saving Floodplain Forests

Cavity-nesting birds rely on floodplain forests along rivers to thrive

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Minnesota Target Species

Minnesota Target Species

Birds in urgent need of conservation action

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How you can help, right now