Date of this Version
Ponca State Park is located adjacent to the Missouri River near the town of Ponca in Dixon County, Nebraska between river miles 753.8 and 755.3. This portion of the river is a 59-mile, unchannelized segment that has been designated as the Missouri National Recreational River under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The majority of the park is situated high on bluffs that overlook the Missouri River. Until recently, the park had only a small amount of easily accessible river frontage. In 1999, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) acquired an additional 295 acres of river bottomland on the adjacent land to the north of Ponca State Park. This land, which is made up of abandoned river chutes, floodplain forest, grasslands, wetlands and a backwater, has now been added to the total acreage of the park. Since this land was added to the park, The NGPC has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to consider joining into a cost share partnership to restore this bottomland under Missouri National Recreational River authority. This would be accomplished by following the business process used for the Section 1135 Aquatic Habitat Restoration Program. This program involves a 75% federal 25% non-federal cost share agreement in which the total cost of the project cannot exceed 5 million dollars and the cost share sponsor must acquire all necessary real estate for the project.
A preliminary restoration plan was developed for the property during the summer and fall of 2000. Under this plan, approximately 2 miles of backwater and shallow water habitat of varying depths would be excavated and connected to the river at the location of the existing backwater. A portion of this backwater area would be excavated to a depth greater than 10 feet in order to create otf-channel overwintering habitat for fish. In addition, the fingers of the existing backwater area would be expanded, and several wetland depressions would be excavated within an adjacent high diversity native grass planting to create wet meadow habitat. Figure I in Appendix A shows a conceptual drawing of the proposed restoration features developed in the preliminary restoration plan. One of the primary benetits of the backwater restoration work at the park would be to increase the amount of shallow. slack water habitat for fish, and perhaps reconnect the Missouri River to a small amount of its historic floodplain. The created habitat should provide valuable spawning, rearing. and foraging habitat, as well as some deep-water overwintering habitat for a number of native riverine fish species.
Prior to beginning detailed design and construction on a restoration project such as this, it is necessary to gather baseline biological data. This data is necessary to determine the quality of the existing habitat. and to tind out what species are utilizing this habitat prior to restoration activities. This data then serves as a baseline to be measured against post-construction data in order to measure the outputs of the restoration project. For this reason, personnel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the assistance of the Ponca State Park Superintendent, collected baseline fishery data in the existing backwater located at the northern end of the newly acquired property on October 5,2000.