A large panel that’s helping guide the rebuilding of the Missouri River’s ecosystem meets this week in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Representatives from Iowa and seven other states, 18 Native American tribes and dozens of agencies and groups comprise the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee.
Chairman John Thorson, of Montana, says the organization is advising the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on existing and future programs for the river. The 70-member committee was founded in 2008 and Thorson says they’re moving from organization to activity.
“There was a lot of litigation in the early part of the 21st century and a lot of the effort has been to build trust among the people around the table,” Thorson says. “That’s no small accomplishment but people are working well together now which is a good thing to see.” Thorson says they are developing position papers on a number of ecosystem issues as the Corps implements its recovery efforts for the Missouri.
“Their budget for those activities varies between $50 and 80-million a year and we are developing specific recommendations to them,” Thorson says. “The Corps is developing a long-term plan for the river that will look out about 40 or 50 years and we are working our way with the Corps on the development of that plan.” Thorson says this panel will be around for a long time to help the Corps to carry out its decades-out goals.
Thorson says, “The Corps of Engineers will probably not complete that planning document until 2016 so we have quite a few years just working with them developing recommendations on the long-term recovery plan for the river.” The committee meets Wednesday at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City.
The Missouri River drains one-sixth of the United States, encompassing more than 500,000 square miles, while the river flows more than 2,300 miles through seven states. The basin is also home to 28 American Indian Tribes. The states represented on the panel are: Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton