Since the 1970s, the Corps’ environmental efforts have grown and evolved from simply protecting fish, wildlife and plant species to a focus on recovering their numbers to become sustainable. The Corps partners with state and federal agencies to expand the scientific knowledge base of the natural environment and evaluate how activities within a watershed may affect protected species. Structural modifications to dams and powerhouses along with changes to river system operations are used to ensure the right things are done for the environment.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages one of the largest federal environmental missions: restoring degraded ecosystems, constructing sustainable facilities, regulating waterways, managing natural resources and cleaning up contaminated sites from past military activities. 

Our environmental programs support the warfighter and military installations worldwide as well as USACE public recreation facilities throughout the country. 

USACE works with other federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to find innovative solutions to challenges that affect everyone – sustainability, climate change, endangered species, environmental cleanup, ecosystem restoration and more.

Environmental sustainability and holistic watershed approaches are integral to the ecosystem restoration mission and overall project and program environmental approach of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is apparent via several aspects of our guidance and actions.

In 2002, the Chief of Engineers issued the Environmental Operating Principles — seven principles that reaffirm the Corps' commitment to the environment and ensure incorporation of environmental considerations in all design and decision-making efforts.

In 2003, the National Ecosystem Restoration Planning Center of Expertise was established at the Mississippi Valley Division. The center provides services including technical review, training, modeling and research and development support to the nation related to ecosystem restoration.

In 2010, the Mississippi Valley Division held the first America’s Inner Coast Summit, a Mississippi River watershed effort aimed at a multipartner need for a shared vision and a long-term plan to protect the resources of the river, its watershed, and the saltwater habitat into which it flows.