The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says there likely will not be a planned spring rise on the Missouri River this month, what was part of an effort to aid endangered species of birds and fish, particularly the piping plover and palid sturgeon. Corps spokesman Paul Johnston, in Omaha, says conditions are not good for the so-called pulse.
Johnston says, “It’s a combination of high flows downstream, high flows on the James River, early nesting by the plovers and low water temperatures below Gavens Point, so it’s kind of a conspiracy of all factors.” The surge of water was planned to mimic the spring rise that used to occur on the river. Biologists hoped the rise would benefit the palid sturgeon by improving their chances at natural reproduction. Johnston says dropping the pulse won’t have any other effects on river operations or bird habitats on downstream sandbars.
Johnston says, “The pulse is a special operation but we were already doing some fluctuation of releases to encourage the plovers to nest on the higher habitat so they don’t get washed out with the nests too low.” He says the Missouri River and the reservoir system are still seeing heavy water coming in.
“We’re still experiencing some high flows because of the end of the snow melting in the mountains,” Johnston says. “What we would expect is a little drier conditions later on in the year.” He says water storage in the upstream reservoirs is now at 107% of historic normal levels. The Corps had planned for its spring pulse from Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, to run May 1st through the 19th. The planned March pulse was also canceled due to similar river conditions.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton