New conservation plan and membership programs developed
Great Rivers Habitat Alliance (GRHA) was founded in 2000 to protect the 100-year Confluence floodplain for the benefit of wildlife, historic waterfowling, agriculture, clean water and people through policy, protection, conservation, public awareness and education.
Today, GRHA collaborates with partners, both at home and upriver, to restore floodplains and wetlands for their recreational, aesthetic, and agricultural benefits, and their values as flood storage and habitat for migratory birds and other species. GRHA teams with farmers, duck clubs, and land stewards to protect land and land-use practices important to wildlife waterfowl and people. To address flooding, we work with local leadership to tackle issue like TIF, floodplain rise, and floodplain fill and look to partner on watershed projects upriver that restore the floodplain in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In 2022 GRHA increased its partnership with Ducks Unlimited in the Conservation Easement Program by providing landowners financial support during the due diligence process and continuing to promote the overall program. These easements preserve the land in perpetuity, with a goal of eventually assembling enough parcels to effectively create a wall of protection against commercial development in the Confluence. GRHA is also signing its first agreement outside of the Confluence by partnering with the Wisconsin Big Rivers Initiative. This partnership provides a mechanism for GRHA to partner with Ducks Unlimited, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other non-governmental organizations to work cooperatively with public and private partners to prioritize and deliver projects in a highly efficient manner. The Wisconsin Big Rivers Initiative focuses on the western two-thirds of the state that drains into the Mississippi River, down to the Confluence and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. The goal of this program is to maintain and improve waterfowl habitat, which in turn will provide flood mitigation, decrease sediment load and water loads in the Mississippi River, and enhance public recreation opportunities.
Moving towards 2023, we are continuing our strategy to protect the Confluence through programs such as the Missouri Agriculture Wetlands Initiative (MAWI), which delivers coordinated private land conservation in Missouri. We look to join the MAWI Partnership in 2023-2026 with financial and leadership support. GRHA’s support will be directed at the three-county area of Lincoln, Pike and St. Charles, and our hope is to bring additional awareness and matching dollars to the program, ultimately increasing the number of habitat acres on the ground in the Confluence. It’s been a productive and successful year, and 2023 looks even better.