Home
Missouri River Recovery Program Logo

Connect with MRRP

MRRP Site Menu

Science

The Corps initiated the MRRP in 2006 to comply with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Biological Opinion (BiOp) while maintaining the congressionally authorized uses of the river that include flood control, navigation, irrigation, hydropower, water supply, water quality, fish and wildlife preservation, and recreation.  

Purpose  

Photo of scientists with sturgeonThe Integrated Science Program (ISP) is the component of the MRRP that is responsible for conducting scientific monitoring and investigations to assist the Corps in avoidance of jeopardy and compliance with the BiOp. The ISP monitors federally-listed species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the habitats upon which they depend, and conducts research and monitoring to address key uncertainties in support of adaptive management.

The purpose of the ISP includes:  

  1. Implementation of system-wide monitoring activities and focused investigations to address BiOp mandates and jeopardy avoidance for the federally listed species;  
  2. Evaluation of MRRP actions on federally listed species;  
  3. Provision of scientific and technical support for MRRP efforts, implementation, design & construction, Operation & Maintenance (O&M), and the Adaptive Management (AM) process; and  
  4. Communication of Missouri River Basin science to stakeholders including federal, state, local agencies, Tribal governments and MRRIC.

Additional Information on the Species and Managment Actions

Collapse All Expand All

The Missouri River provides habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including three federally listed threatened or endangered species: the endangered least tern, the threatened piping plover, and the endangered pallid sturgeon.

Visit the MRRP page, under The Species and the River section, to learn more about these species and their habitat. See the below sections for important management actions for these species.

 

Raising pallid sturgeon in hatcheries and stocking them in the river is not the solution to saving the species, but it is an important part of recovering them. The hatcheries help preserve genetic diversity and maintain population structure while we are addressing the factors limiting the pallid sturgeon population.  

Pallid Sturgeon Propagation and Population Augmentation Program  

The Pallid Sturgeon Propagation and Population Augmentation Program (Program) has utilized up to six hatcheries throughout the Missouri River basin to meet the stocking needs of the species. These hatcheries include:

  • Blind Pony State Fish Hatchery (Blind Pony Hatchery), Sweet Springs, Mo.,
  • Neosho National Fish Hatchery (Neosho Hatchery), Neosho, Mo.,
  • Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery (Gavins Point Hatchery), Yankton, S.D.,
  • Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery (Garrison Dam Hatchery), Riverdale, N.D.,
  • Miles City State Fish Hatchery (Miles City Hatchery), Miles City, Mont., and
  • Bozeman Fish Technology Center (Bozeman FTC), Bozeman, Mont.

Goals of the Project  

The Program consists of two primary components at the present time. The Annual Supplemental Support component of the program provides resources to each of the participating hatcheries as determined by the Pallid Propagation Team to ensure the most equitable use of the project's resources to meet the stocking needs of the species. This annual supplemental support targets fulfilling the annual stocking shortfall (Average Annual Shortfall) as identified in the Biological Opinion. The annual supplemental support enhances pallid sturgeon production capabilities by covering increased costs associated with feed, utilities, distribution costs, various maintenance items and operational costs incurred through the facility improvements component of the program. The Facility Improvements component of the project was a short-term approach to addressing limitations of the hatcheries in meeting annual stocking targets. The effort (completed in 2007) increased the quantity and the quality of the hatchery produced pallid sturgeon to more effectively fulfill the stocking goals in each of the Recovery Management Units within the Missouri River System. Since 2000, the collective hatchery production capability has increased five-fold. The combination of the facility improvement projects and the annual supplemental support enables the effort to focus on the population augmentation needs of the pallid sturgeon relative to recovery of the species.  

The benefits of a collective approach to capturing, spawning and rearing pallid sturgeon is critical to the overall success of the population augmentation program. Multi-agency cooperative efforts provide increased numbers of broodstock and redundancy in the fish-rearing effort helps ensure overall success in the event of disease or other catastrophic loss at any one facility.  

Fish Marking  

A variety of marking methods have been utilized to identify hatchery fish, which enhances scientists' understanding of the species (i.e., growth, movement, survival). The Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag provides the maximum amount of information specific to individual fish. Smaller juveniles (that cannot be PIT tagged based on size) are marked with tags such as an elastomer tag (visual) or a coded wire tag. These tags provide less information, but at a minimum differentiate between hatchery and wild fish. In the event of no tag, as is the case when fry (less than 20 days old) are stocked, the genetic tools are now available to differentiate these stocked fish from naturally reproduced.  

Hatchery Production Capabilities

Graph of hatchery production capabilities

The graphic shows the maximum hatchery production capabilities for the Gavins Point, Garrison Dam, Miles City, Blind Pony, and Neosho hatcheries and the Bozeman Fish Technology Center, collectively. The graphic is based on maximum allowable densities of .5 pounds of fish per square foot of rearing space and fish length of approximately 8 inches (fork length). Note that the hatcheries will operate at densities below the recommended maximum allowable levels to minimize stress that would likely reduce the overall quality of the fish and potential for successful stocking.   

 

 

 

  

Management actions are undertaken throughout the breeding season to protect least tern and piping plover nesting sites and to improve the productivity of the two species.  

  

Photo of predator management

Predator Management:  To ensure the survival of nests and chicks, predators may be removed from nesting areas. 

Photo of piping plover cage

Piping Plover Cage:  To protect piping plover nests from predators, a three-foot-by-three-foot-by-three-foot wire mesh cage is installed over the nest. The adult then walks through the mesh to return to the nest. Because least terns fly off their nests, cages are not usually installed over least tern nests.   

         

Photo of nest moving/raising

Nest Moving/Raising:  To protect a nest from rising river or reservoir levels or from bank erosion, a nest may be moved to a higher location or if that is not possible, the nest will be raised.      

Photo of chick moving/platform  

Chick Moving/Platform:  If a sandbar might be inundated due to rising river levels, chicks may be relocated to a higher sandbar, or if that is not possible, a platform may be constructed to provide shelter for the chicks.      

 

Photo of restriction sign 

Restriction Signs:  To protect nesting sites from human disturbance, restriction signs are placed on sandbars and beaches warning the public of endangered species.