Missouri River Water Management News

Missouri River Water Management News Releases are available on the Northwestern Division website.RSS Feed

Vegetation control to begin on Missouri River sandbars between Pickstown and Ponca

Published Sept. 19, 2017
A helicopter flies low over a sandbar in the Missouri River.

A helicopter sprays a sandbar in the Missouri River as part of vegetation control efforts in 2016. The sandbars provide habitat for the endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover. Lower levels of vegetation on the sandbars help protect the birds from predators.

OMAHA, Neb. - During September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct vegetation management activities on sandbars in the Missouri River between Pickstown, South Dakota, and Ponca, Nebraska. Approximately 880 acres have been identified for treatment. This work is being done to keep the sandbars free of vegetation and usable by the endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover for nesting.

Certified applicators using helicopters and all-terrain vehicles will begin spraying after Labor Day only on vegetated portions of the sandbars. Spraying will be done with glyphosate and imazapyr, both approved for aquatic use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Spraying locations will include approximately 130 acres in the river below Gavins Point Dam, 150 acres in the river below Fort Randall Dam, and 600 acres in the upper end of Lewis and Clark Lake in South Dakota.

Spraying will take place only when environmental conditions allow, such as little to no wind and no rainfall in the immediate forecast. While efforts will be made to conduct spraying during the week, when public use is lower, spraying may occur on weekends since good spraying days can be limited due to wind or rain.

The Corps began current vegetation control and removal activities on selected sandbars in 2012 and will continue each spring and/or fall, as needed, into the future.

BACKGROUND: In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Biological Opinion (BiOp) in which the agency found the Corps’ operations on the Missouri River would not likely jeopardize endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover populations if certain recommendations were implemented. One of those recommendations is to restore emergent sandbar habitat as nesting habitat for these two species. After public review of a draft environmental assessment, the “Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Restoration of Emergent Sandbar Habitat Complexes in the Missouri River, Nebraska and South Dakota,” was released in May 2013. A copy of this report can be downloaded at http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Planning/ProjectReports.aspx.

Omaha District Public Affairs

Release no. 17-090