At its August meeting, the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) made adjustments to how it will operate, shifting to provide guidance to the Corps on specific aspects of the habitat recovery program. These changes were made in anticipation of the Corps’ new recovery management plan, which will be announced in 2018, and the accompanying adaptive management plan. Members of MRRIC will directly engage with teams of scientists on Missouri River recovery actions. Two new work groups will focus on federally listed endangered species – one for the pallid sturgeon and another for the least tern and piping plover. Another new work group will focus on the possible impacts of river recovery efforts on residents of the basin.
During the meeting, MRRIC members also heard from the Corps about comments received on the proposed Missouri River Recovery Management Plan. The Corps received 450 comment letters, including two from the League, with more than 2,000 comments on various aspects of the proposed plan. Comments were received from people and organizations in 17 states, indicating wide-spread interest in Missouri River recovery. The Corps is reviewing these comments and will use them in the development of a Final Environmental Impact Statement and selection a recovery alternative next year. MRRIC gave tentative approval of a series of recommendations to the Corps on the draft recovery plan. Those recommendations will be up for final consensus at the fall meeting in Kansas City.
MRRIC is a 70-member committee made up of federal, state, tribal, and stakeholder representatives. The committee provides guidance to the Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on current and future actions of the Missouri River Recovery Program. The Recovery Program is working to restore some of the millions of acres of habitat lost along the river due to man-made changes, including the creation of six dams and a navigation channel. That habitat loss led to the pallid sturgeon, piping plover, and least tern being placed on the federal Endangered Species List. The League has been a member of MRRIC since the committee’s inception in 2008. For more on MRRIC, visit www.mrric.org.