Results of 2012 Missouri River Funding Battle
Epic flooding along the Missouri River in 2011 caused billions in property damage and disrupted the lives of thousands of residents. Unfortunately, some in Congress are trying to use this disaster to undermine long-standing efforts to restore fish and wildlife and critical habitat throughout the river basin. The League worked hard to blunt these efforts, and with the help of our members and other state, regional, and national organizations, we won a partial victory in the final 2012 budget bill.
The most serious threat was a proposal to slash $50 million from a budget of about $72 million for on-the-ground restoration projects. These projects create and restore habitat, which directly contributes to species recovery and indirectly supports the broader outdoor recreation economy across the region. A cut of this magnitude would have devastated recovery efforts. Thanks in part to League engagement, this proposal was rejected and Congress provided more than $71 million for recovery projects and programs.
On the other hand, the final budget for 2012 includes two provisions blocking the Army Corps of Engineers from spending any funds on two critical studies. One provision stalls development of the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan, a long-term plan to restore fish and wildlife habitat in and along the river. The second blocks funding for the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study, which would review the fundamental tenets of Missouri River management for the first time since 1944. These short-sighted provisions do not address the root causes of the flooding but directly undermine ongoing and long-overdue efforts to improve and modernize river restoration and management.
We'll need the active support of League members in 2012 as we work to convince Congress to fund these studies – both of which are critical to restoring fish and wildlife habitat and increasing outdoor recreational opportunities on the river. Many thanks to those of you who contacted your members of Congress during the recent budget battle.