MADISON — The replacement of the U.S. Highway 63 bridge over the Mississippi River may result in the “incidental taking” of a rare mussel under an authorization the Department of Natural Resources proposes to issue for the project. Incidental take refers to the unintentional loss of individual endangered or threatened animals or plants that does not put the overall population of the species at risk.
The Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation propose to replace the Highway 63 bridge crossing of the Mississippi River at Redwing, Minn. The project encompasses removing the existing bridge and replacing it with a new bridge. The new bridge will be located immediately upstream of the existing bridge. The purpose of the proposed project is to provide a structurally sound bridge crossing of the Mississippi River, continuity of Highway 63 between Minnesota and Wisconsin and create a more accessible roadway to Trenton Island for emergency service vehicles.
The project will impact mussels during removal of the existing bridge and construction of the new bridge. A mussel survey indicated the only state listed mussel species found live along the Wisconsin side of the river was the state threatened wartyback (Quadrula nodulata). DNR staff determined that the proposed project will result in the incidental taking of this species.
Department staff concluded that the proposed project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence or recovery of this species within the state, the whole plant-animal community of which it is a part and has benefit to the public health, safety or welfare that justifies the action.
The conservation measures to minimize the adverse effect on the endangered species will be incorporated into the proposed Incidental Take Authorization. Copies of the jeopardy assessment and background information on the Wartyback mussel are available by searching the DNR website for incidental take public notice or upon request from Lisie Kitchel at 508-266-5248 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Public comments will be taken through Feb. 8, 2017, and should be sent to Lisie Kitchel, Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921.