Act for Inflation Reduction in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River Basin



Seven nature-based resiliency projects have been selected in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River basin, benefitting fish, wildlife, and local communities; they aim to reduce flood and drought risks via habitat restoration and nature-based solutions like levee removal and replacement of invasive species with native plants. The projects, funded by $10 million from the Inflation Reduction Act, are part of the largest climate investment in history. They are also part of a larger $2 billion downpayment by the Department of the Interior to restore US lands and waters, which includes a $120 million investment to rehabilitate National Wildlife Refuge System areas affected by adverse weather.

Nature-Based Resiliency Projects in National Wildlife Refuge System Lands

Seven nature-based resiliency projects are set for the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River basin, a region spanning five Midwestern states. The area hosts vast bottomland forests, wetlands, and riverine habitats, which support 60% of the country’s migrating birds and 40% of North America’s waterfowl, alongside a diverse array of fish and wildlife. The Inflation Reduction Act has allocated $10 million to this project area, marking the largest climate investment in history for nature-based resiliency and restoration.

The projects aim to lessen flood and drought risks and their associated damages by restoring resilient habitats. This is achieved through nature-based solutions like levee removal or setbacks, restoring floodplain wetlands and backwaters, re-engineering climate-adaptive infrastructure, and replacing invasive species with native plant species. These projects will benefit fish and wildlife, promote recreational activities like hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, and provide neighbouring communities with environmental services such as clean water, air, and potential reductions in flood and drought impacts.

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Department of the Interior is deploying over $2 billion to restore our nation’s lands and waters. A significant investment of over $120 million from the Inflation Reduction Act was announced in March to rebuild and restore units of the National Wildlife Refuge System and partnering state wildlife management areas adversely affected by weather events. The initiative promotes coastal resilience and climate adaptation, tackles invasive species threats, and supports additional data collection for successful natural resource resilience.

The nature-based resiliency projects in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River basin present a singular opportunity to address restoration needs designed to lessen the impacts of climate change on an ecosystem rich in fish, wildlife, and plants, benefiting also the people living, working, and recreating there.

Project name State County Funding

These investments aim to complete large-scale, geographically diverse projects that benefit conservation areas, including those benefiting underserved communities and Tribal interests. The program aligns with the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful Initiative, a decade-long challenge to engage in locally led and voluntary conservation to protect, conserve, connect, and restore our nation’s lands, waters, habitats and wildlife.

For more information about our work through the Inflation Reduction Act, visit this resource.

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