Missouri River Water Management News

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Vegetation control to begin on Missouri River sandbars between Pickstown, S.D. and Ponca, Neb.

Published Aug. 27, 2014
PICKSTOWN, S.D. - During September, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will spray sandbars in the Missouri River between Pickstown, S.D. and Ponca, Neb. with aquatic-approved herbicides to keep the sandbars clear of vegetation. This work is being done so that the sandbars may be used by the endangered interior least tern and threatened piping plover for nesting.

Spraying will begin after Labor Day and will be conducted only on vegetated portions of the sandbars. Approximately 100 acres have been identified for treatment in 2014 by a team of federal and state representatives. Spraying will be done with glyphosate and imazapyr, both approved for aquatic use by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. By removing vegetation from the sandbars, they remain viable nesting habitat for the terns and plovers.

Spraying will take place only when environmental conditions allow, such as little to no wind and no rainfall in the immediate forecast. All spraying will be done by certified applicators using all-terrain vehicles. 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/EnvironmentalPlanning/FinalDocuments.aspx.

Eileen Williamson
Cynthia Upah

Release no. 20140827-002