MPA seeks support for Missouri River restoration
By Jo Schaper
Missouri Parks Association is asking for citizen support for the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to restore fish and wildlife habitat in the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge adjacent to Arrow Rock State Historic Site.
The deadline for comments is this Saturday June 30.
After the flood of 1993, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife began purchasing land along the Missouri River for habitat restoration and flood mitigation. To date, they have acquired 16,700 acres from willing sellers.
These lands are open to hunting and fishing under normal state regulations.
In order to restore the river to a semblance of its pre-wing dam self (the wing dams are designed to direct current to naturally scour a navigation channel, while keeping the river within current bank configurations), the Corps moves river sediment to affect the “design” of the river, sometimes creating shoals and shallows better suited for animal habitat than steep, more vertical banks.
In 2007, while working at Jameson Island next to Arrow Rock, the Missouri Clean Water Commission ruled that sediment was a pollutant, and prohibited the Corps from discharging sediment to the river. The Missouri River is a water intake for public drinking water along its course, including St. Charles and St. Louis County.
The Missouri River already carries 20-30% less sediment than it did historically, thanks to the upstream dams being choke points for dirt, sand and gravel. With this activity banned, approximately $70 million in restoration funds was reallocated away from Missouri to other basin states.
Since then, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report in 2011 detailing how sediment restoration is critical not just to fish and wildlife habitat, but also the functioning of the floodplain as a “sponge” during floods, and how near-river wetlands can also mitigate pollution and clean the water. (The city of Columbia uses a wetlands as part of its wastewater treatment process, at lower cost than conventional systems.)
MPA is asking for citizen input to the Corps to add to the voices of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Nature Conservancy and Missouri Audubon to approach the Clean Water Commission to approve a revised plan of action at Jameson Island, and to Missouri congressmen to approve funding for this project.
Comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. coming Saturday, June 30. They should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> or mailed to:
Mr. David R. Hoover, Biologist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District
ATTN: Environmental Resources Section, Planning Branch
601 East 12th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106-2896
Written comments must be postmarked by June 30 to be considered.