U.S. Congressmen Sam Graves (MO-06), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), and Billy Long (MO-07) have filed legislation to improve the management of the Missouri River. Their bill, H.R. 1460, would remove "fish and wildlife" from the list of authorized purposes for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can undertake a river management project. Currently, the Corps' Master Manual includes eight authorized purposes. By removing "fish and wildlife," the Corps can focus more closely on projects related to navigation and flood management.
"The record flooding of the Missouri River in 2011 affected hundreds of families, homes, farmers, and businesses throughout the river basin," said Congressman Graves. "Families were displaced, homes were under water, crops destroyed, and businesses lost revenue. As a result, we must take a serious look at the management of the Missouri River and make common-sense reforms that make residents the priority. The Corps should not have to waste precious resources on building wildlife habitats, a duty they are not suited for and should not have to fulfill. Our bill will help reduce the likelihood of future flooding, which our families, farmers, and small businesses deserve."
"With roughly 140 miles of the Missouri River in my district, I have seen firsthand how the Corps and its limited resources are being spread too thin," said Congressman Luetkemeyer. "I'm supporting Congressman Graves' bill because I believe ensuring the Corps has the ability to focus its resources on projects that keep our communities safe and help fuel our economy should be a major priority for states up and down the Missouri River."
"Over the past few years, we have seen both extreme drought and damaging floods that caused great loss and heavy burdens to citizens who live along the Missouri River, and I believe we need to take this opportunity to focus on resources and set priorities for our natural resources," said Congresswoman Hartzler. "My conversations with Missouri River stakeholders, farmers, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources convince me we must make agriculture and transportation interests our Missouri River priorities. While preserving wildlife habitat is important, we cannot allow these narrow interests to take precedence over the lives and activities of farmers, businesses, and residents on or near the river. The well being of our citizens must be government's top priority."
"The Corps' focus should be on operations and maintenance," said Congressman Long. "This legislation is necessary to ensure the Corps uses their resources to protect folks living along and doing business on the Missouri River."
BACKGROUND: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the management of the Missouri River. Pursuant to the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS), the Corps gives consideration to eight authorized purposes -- flood control, navigation, water supply, water quality, hydropower, irrigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife. Further, pursuant to the Master Manual which was last amended in 2006, the Corps gives priority to flood control and navigation of the overall eight authorized purposes when making river management decisions. Environmental groups have continually challenged the river management procedures of the Army Corps in court to gain greater consideration for fish and wildlife.