Lake Odessa restoration creates habitat for Iowa wildlife

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LOUISA COUNTY, Iowa -- Thousands of birds, fish, and other creatures will be able to make their home along the Mississippi River thanks to a newly-completed project.

On Thursday, April 6, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut the ribbon on the Lake Odessa Rehabilitation Project.

For more than a decade, crews have been working to restore nearly 6,500 acres at the Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge near Wapello, Iowa.

"We did restore a levee system here due to flood damages of the past, and then, also, we added a spillway that will help control flows," explained Col. Craig Baumgartner, commander and district engineer.

By managing the water, leaders say they're able to improve the habitat for fish and migratory birds.

"They promote the growth of the kind of vegetation that migratory waterfowl and other things need in order to be able to have nutrition as they're flying south for the winter," said Marv Hubbell, regional manager for the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program.

The project also included tree planting and creating areas of deeper water for fish to winter.

It cost $22.8 million to complete.