Bluegill Logo Small Bluegill


Navigation & Ecosystem Sustainability Program Background Resources for NGOs
and local governments (LGs)


NESP is a federal program that is intended to invest in the dual purpose nature of the contemporary upper Mississippi River, supporting both commercial navigation and ecosystem restoration. NESP was developed over many controversial decades, was initially authorized in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), but only began receiving substantial funding in 2022.

NESP was essentially mothballed when the program was not funded c. 2010. However, substantial conceptual development of the NESP working architecture had occurred by that time, a good portion of which has been largely forgotten because of the decade-plus lapse between NESP authorization and its funding, and staff turnovers at most of the entities involved with NESP.

This resource website is intended to display current events for NESP as well as be a guide to the forgotten history of NESP's conceptual development and the long, complex, and controversial background of NESP, specifically from the viewpoint of, and to assist, members of the NGO/LG community (ie, entities other than official state and federal partners) who wish to be involved in NESP.

Current potential points of interest for NGO/LGs:

  1. NGO/LG seats on the Advisory Panel (AP): the WRDA 2007 authorizing legislation specifies seats for navigation and agriculture (2 seats) conservation and environmental advocacy (2 seats) and landowners (1 seat).

  2. Diminishing emphasis for scales above project level to reach and watershed (systemic)

  3. Diminishing role of overall, unified management (e.g. the former RMC)

Upcoming NESP-related Events

  1. UMR System-Wide

    1. UMRBA Quarterly Meeting, February 27, 2024, Virtual

    2. UMRR Coordinating Committee, February 28,2024, Virtual

    3. UMRBA Quarterly Meeting, May 21, 2024, Quad Cities

    4. UMRR Coordinating Committee, May 22,2024, Quad Cities

Recent NESP-related Events

  1. NESP Coordinating Committee November 9, 2023, Quad Cities

    1. Agenda and supporting materials

  2. UMRBA Quarterly Meeting, October 24, 2023, St. Louis, MO

  3. UMRR Coordinating Committee, October 25,2023, St, Louis, MO

  4. Sept. 7, 2023 WEBINAR: "Ecological Status and Trends of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers" Presenter: Dr. Jeff Houser USGS-UMESC.

    The Webinar was recorded and will be posted to the UMRR website week of Sept 11.

  5. NESP Coordinating Committee: June 28, East Moline, IL

    1. Agenda and supporting materials

  6. UMRBA Quarterly Meeting: August 8, La Crosse WI

  7. UMRR Coordinating Committee Quarterly Meeting, August 9, La Crosse, WI

    1. Agenda Packet

    2. Highlights and Action Items

  8. FWIC October 26, 2023, 1-4pm CDT Virtual.

    1. Presentations

      1. Marshall Plumley UMRR HREP Selection Process Presentation

      2. Recording of meeting

  9. FWWG (Fish and Working Group), August 10, UMESC, La Crosse, WI

  10. River Resources Forum , August 15-16, Prairie du Chien, WI

    1. Draft Agenda

    2. Draft Minutes from August 15-16 2023 meeting

  11. Regional/Reach

    1. USACE St. Paul District

      1. FWWG (Fish and Working Group), Early November, 2023

      2. River Resources Forum, Dec 5-6, 2023 at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Bloomington, MN.

    2. USACE Rock Island District

      1. FWIC (Fish and Wildlife Interagency Committee). Contact: Sara Schmuecker

      2. November 13, 2023, 9:30am-5:30pm, USACE Mississippi River Project Office, L&D 14 (Quad Cities area)

        1. Agenda

        2. Read-Ahead Materials (as .zip file)

      3. River Resources Coordinating Team

    3. USACE St, Louis District

      1. River Resources Action Team

      2. Illinois River Work Group

  12. River-wide and Other Relevant Events

    1. Sept 12-14, MRCTI 2023 Annual Meeting, Bemidji MN. All stakeholders are invited to attend. Major new infrastructure partnering arrangements will be announced.

Upcoming NESP Milestones

  1. AP/IA internal USACE memo result (currently in USACE review)

Background Timeline

NESP has a long, complex, and controversial background and history: Timeline and background documents.