Prairie Engineers of Illinois, P.C. was contracted by Blue Heron Conservation Design & Printing to provide professional services in support of a Hydrogeomorphic Evaluation Method (HGM) for the lower 670 miles of the Missouri River from Little Sioux, Iowa to St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri River maintains an extensive patchwork of conservation properties featuring a diverse mix of riverine, floodplain, prairie, wetland and forest habitats that help support healthy populations of native fish and wildlife species, endangered species, and many recreational activities. The lower Missouri River is highly influenced by upstream reservoirs and contains highly altered physical and ecological attributes. These alterations pose significant challenges for strategic and sustainable maintenance, restoration and protection of the river’s wildlife and their habitats.
HGM is a cutting edge, GIS based, landscape level examination of the restoration and management potential of the Lower Missouri River and its floodplain. The HGM approach uses a variety of historic and current GIS data to assess the pre-settlement ecological condition and function, and determine how and why the pre-settlement conditions have changed over time. From this evaluation, the GIS model can provide recommendations on how and where to restore ecological functionality given the existing altered physical environment. The resulting maps, models and report for the Lower Missouri River project will serve as tools which will help to inform land managers of potential restoration options and assist with the development of common conservation priorities within the floodplain corridor. HGM is a tool aimed at providing public and private resource managers with data at a regional scale which considers flood control, restoration potential, recreation, navigation, and other interests along the river. The final product can be utilized at the landscape level to promote watershed conservation or utilized at site specific locations such as the USFWS National Wildlife Refuge lands to develop site specific restoration plans. The information can be used by public and private groups, and can promote coordination of restoration strategies between groups to maximize ecological functionality within the river corridor.