The Missouri River is number-four on the new list of the country’s “most endangered” waterways, according to an environmental conservation group. Eileen Fretz, spokeswoman for American Rivers, says last year’s historic, months-long flooding of the Missouri showed how management of the river is at a crossroads.
Fretz says, “We can either keep going on levees and dams that have failed to provide adequate flood protection, as they did last year, or we can take a broader look and look at some other changes, such as the natural ability of the river’s floodplains and wetlands to absorb and store floodwaters.”
The 2011 flooding caused hundreds of millions of dollars damage to homes, businesses, farmland and infrastructure. Many blamed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for not acting quickly enough to avert the flooding, but Fretz says there needs to be more long-term planning to prevent future flooding disasters.
“Just relying on dams and levees hasn’t been enough to protect us and we need to acknowledge that flooding happens and we need to accommodate for a little bit of that,” Fretz says. “We think that flood plain restoration can help us meet those needs.” She encourages Nebraskans and Iowans to take action by going to the Washington, D.C. based group’s website, www.americanrivers.org .
“There’ll be a link where you can send an email to decision makers,” Fretz says, “encouraging them to support their rivers.” The nation’s top three most endangered rivers, according to the report, are: the Potomac, the Green River and the Chattahoochee.
American Rivers calls itself “the nation’s voice for clean water and healthy rivers,” and releases the report every year to shine a public spotlight on threats facing rivers and how citizens can take action to help.