There’s a new approach to helping endangered species on the Missouri River — a committee with members from all levels of government, as well as environmental groups and industries that depend on the river. Its mission will be to advise regulators on efforts to restore the river for federally-protected birds and fish.
During a meeting in Omaha this week, Army Corps of Engineers project leader Rose Hargrave said the group will try to move beyond years of conflict and litigation.
“With all the conflict in this basin — over the Master Manual, the operation of the dams, particularly the Spring Rise operation — the federal agencies realized that we needed some help here, that our basin is not used to collaborating,” she said. “That’s not what we do here. We fight over water. So this is a true culture shift for the Missouri River basin.”
Farmer David Sieck of Glenwood, Iowa, says he’d like to see more involvement of stakeholders from agriculture, navigation, power and other industries. Sieck’s waiting to see whether the new committee will make any real changes in how regulators interact with those groups.
Sieck says a “culture shift” is happening and dragging along the river’s users in the process, and he’s not 100 percent sold on that yet. A series of open houses being held throughout the Missouri River region will wrap up tomorrow (Thursday) in Billings, Montana.