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Essays on Floodplains–Part 3, More on Forests

Ward Island

Ward Island: Texas Chute

Adams County, Illinois

The Rock Island District of the Corps of Engineers manages Ward Island, just south of Quincy, Illinois. A levee and Texas Chute, a silted-in side channel of the Mississippi, separate the forested island from the mainland. In 1982 the Rock Island District instituted a five-year cutting cycle on Ward Island. Commercial loggers cleared patches of forest, no larger than fifteen acres, of silver maples and cottonwood. Before each cut biologists from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Conservation marked snag trees, dead trees, to be left for nesting and roosting. The loggers avoided the oaks and hickorys, nut-producing trees that provide food for wildlife and natural regeneration. Failing that, the Corps planted nut-bearing tree in the cleared areas.

At the same time the district began a ten-year survey of the growth of vegetation, the production of tree seeds, and the number of visits by breeding birds in the spring and migrating birds in the fall. Monitors learned that of the sixty-three species that visit the island, fifty-three increased their visits by 1987. The Corps conducted similar programs on nearby Cottonwood Island, Orton Island, and the Sny Island Use Area.[i]

John Hay/Sny Island Use Area

[i] U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, Forest Management Program on the Upper Mississippi, Silviculture and Management, http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/forestry/; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, Memorandum for Record, Pools 21-22, 1987, http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/forestry/coordination/ 1987/Pool%2021-22.doc;  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, Memorandum for Record, Pools 21-22, 1988, http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/forestry/coordination/1988/Pool%2021-22.doc;  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, Map: Ward Island Regeneration Sites, http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/forestry/GIS%20Maps/ward_regen.jpg.


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