On April 24, the Izaak Walton League submitted detailed comments
on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal plan to restore the Missouri River. This was an opportunity to weigh in on proposals that will chart river recovery for decades and directly affect fish and wildlife, outdoor recreation, and communities along the river. League divisions and chapters in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota also signed on to a comment letter about the plan.
Man-made alterations have changed the Missouri River from a wide, slow-moving river to one dominated by channelization and impounded by six large reservoirs. The river also suffers from loss of flood plain connectivity due to the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project and a series of levees. These changes contributed to a drastic decline in the overall health of the river.
In the draft plan, the Corps presented six alternatives for river restoration. However, the range of proposals is extremely narrow and none of the recovery alternatives adequately addresses current problems affecting the river. The Corps’ preferred alternative (Alternative #3) is based entirely on constructing habitat along the river using heavy equipment – a costly endeavor that would leave the river’s endangered and native species vulnerable to federal budget cuts, making recovery goals unobtainable without significant federal dollars annually.
In our formal comments, the League urged the Corps to select recovery actions that will benefit a wide variety of fish and wildlife species by restoring wetlands and backwater areas to reconnect the river to its floodplain. The League also favors additional river widening projects and the removal of man-made pinch points on the lower river. These efforts will be good for the health of the river, native fish and wildlife, and the people of the basin.
You can read the League’s detailed comments and the letter signed by League chapters and divisions on our website: iwla.org/MissouriRiver
. The Corps is expected to issue a final recovery plan next year.