The U.S. Corps of Engineers is pushing to create 1,200 acres of shallow water habitat by a July 1 deadline.
The projects are the first step toward meeting an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete 20,000 acres of shallow water habitat along the Missouri River from Ponca to St. Louis over the next 20 years.
Just north of Ponca State Park in Ponca, Nebraska, the corps is dredging out a mile-lone oxbow lake. It will open out onto the river's main channel.
Corps project manager John Remus says material taken from the oxbow lake will be used to create two islands in the river. The new islands will be ideal habitat for two threatened shore-birds, the piping plover and the interior least tern.
Remus says the habitat-creating projects began as an effort to ensure the survival of the endangered pallid sturgeon but many other species should benefit.