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MRRIC Tribal members focus on recovery strategic plan

Published March 29, 2018
Tribal members of MRRIC seated at a table.

Tribal members of the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee participate in the May 2018 plenary meeting. Pictured from left to right are: Elizabeth Wakeman, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe; Shannon Wright, Ponca Tribe; and Pascha Enzi, Osage Nation.

OMAHA, Neb. - The Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee held the first meeting of its 10th anniversary year here March 27-29. This was the committee’s 40th meeting since it was established by the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 and chartered in 2008.

Tribes were represented by Pascha Enzi, Osage Nation; Tim Grant, Omaha Tribe of Nebraska; Randy Teboe, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska; Elizabeth Wakeman, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe; and Shannon Wright, Ponca Tribe.

At this meeting, MRRIC heard about the USACE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s planned completion of the Missouri River Recovery Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement. This includes an Adaptive Management Plan, which will guide implementation of recovery actions to benefit the pallid sturgeon, piping plover, and interior least tern while meeting authorized purposes.

MRRIC’s Independent Science Advisory Panel provided comments on the USFWS’s draft Biological Opinion. “An independent review of the science is very valuable to the Missouri River Recovery Program and contributes to the committee’s confidence in this collaborative process,” said MRRIC Chair Gail Bingham. “MRRIC requested this review and appreciates the willingness of the Corps and the USFWS to having the BiOp reviewed by independent scientists.” The USFWS is scheduled to provide the final BiOp to USACE in April 2018.

USFWS Regional Director Noreen Walsh also announced a grant to provide seed money to study alternative piping plover habitat in addition to emergent sandbar habitat in the river channel.

Members approved recommendations asking that the Corps assess the impacts from invasive species on recovery efforts and that the Corps consider the results of piping plover population dynamics studies across the northern Great Plains as part of the adaptive management process. The Corps and USFWS concurred.

In addition, MRRIC discussed the Missouri River Recovery Program’s draft strategic plan for recovery actions over the next few years, along with implications of the Fiscal Year 2019 President’s Budget.

On March 26, MRRIC’s Tribal Interests Work Group hosted a training session on the HydroViz tool for all committee members. As part of the EIS development, USACE modeled and examined a number of alternative courses of action to support the three threatened and endangered species. HydroViz is a tool that helps MRRIC visualize some of the predicted changes that might result from each of the alternatives. The Tribal Interests Work Group organized the training to help members gain technical skills to support their participation in MRRIC's work.

MRRIC is a 70-member committee that comprises stakeholders and representatives of tribal, state, and federal governments throughout the Missouri River Basin. MRRIC was authorized by Congress in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act and was established in 2008 by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). It provides recommendations to the Corps and other Federal agencies and serves as a basin-wide collaborative forum for developing a shared vision and plan for the MRRP. The committee makes decisions by consensus.

The next MRRIC meeting will be held May 22-24, 2018, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. For more information on MRRIC, please contact the committee chair at mrric@usace.army.mil. Additional information on Missouri River recovery efforts is available online at www.mrric.org and www.moriverrecovery.org.

Omaha District Public Affairs
(402) 995-2417

Release no. 18-024