Mississippi River Corridor Habitat Assessment

Environmental Science Capstone

Marnie Sciamanda and Michelle Boone identifying mammal tracks by the Mississippi River at the MWMO headquarters.

The Mississippi River corridor is an ecosystem of connected natural and urban habitats, which provides benefits to both wildlife and humans. The “Above the Falls” stretch of the Mississippi River shoreline has historically been industrial, but the Mississippi River Management Organization (MWMO), the Mississippi Riverfront Partnership (MRP), and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) would like to restore this area to provide habitat connectivity along the river corridor.  Property ownership complicates this goal; property along this stretch of the river has multiple owners and uses (e.g., residential, industrial, parks, vacant Brownfields).  “Postage-stamp” parks have been created along this stretch, as the MPRB and partners purchase land along the river in a piecemeal fashion, when available. 

Dylan Welter, Dan Pastika, and Jack Kellner install a motion-detection camera to photograph mammals by the river.

To achieve restoration goals in this context, the corridor as a whole needs to be assessed for wildlife function.  For example: What wildlife species are currently present? What is a meaningful corridor (size/length) to maximize wildlife habitat and to provide habitat conveyance?  Finally, the complexity of property ownership and public access needs to be considered.  How can the corridor be restored considering the current context of multiple property owners along the river? How can restoration goals be achieved while still providing an accessible riverfront for the public?

Drs. Lisa Lamb, Sami Nichols, and St. Thomas seniors worked for the MWMO to address these questions. The results can be found in the Final Report.