|St. Johns Bayou – New Madrid Floodway Area|
(click to enlarge)
The flood control project is designed to reduce flood impacts on small communities and a large area of agricultural land behind the levee system, by cutting off the Mississippi River from the only area in Missouri where the River has significant connection with its natural floodplain. It was initially proposed in the 1950s, and has been consistently opposed by environmental organizations since. Environmentalists and natural resource agencies argue that the River-floodplain connection is essential to maintain storage for floodwaters, trap and filter River sediment and nutrients, and support area and migratory wildlife and waterfowl. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for example, noted in its project Coordination Act Report that "The project would essentially eliminate a unique landscape and ecological feature in southeast Missouri and result in loss of thousands of acres of wetlands and their connection to the Mississippi River that cannot be adequately mitigated."