Missouri River Association of States and Tribes
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Newsletter December 2010

December 31st, 2010 | Posted by David Pope in News - (Comments Off on Newsletter December 2010)

The December 2010 newsletter has been published. In this issue:

  • MoRAST meeting and MRNRC Conference to be held in March 2011
  • Highlight of MoRAST activities for 2010
  • Update regarding Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS)
  • Missouri River Recovery Program Update
  • Upcoming events

Download the newsletter here: Missouri River News – Dec 2010

Highlight of MoRAST acvitivities for 2010

December 2nd, 2010 | Posted by David Pope in News | Newsletter - (Comments Off on Highlight of MoRAST acvitivities for 2010)

MoRAST held two regular meetings in 2010:  March 16 Nebraska City, NE and September 22-23 in Rapid City, South Dakota.  The regular   MoRAST meetings included participation by the MoRAST Board and other representatives of the States and Tribes, along with a wide range of Federal officials, stakeholders and other individuals.  We were honored to have participation at one or both meetings by General John McMahon, Commander of the USACE Northwestern Division; Col. Robert Ruch, Commander of the USACE Omaha District; Gary Campbell, Deputy Regional Director, USBR; Mike Thabault, Regional Assistant Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service and many other Federal agency leaders in the Basin from these agencies as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Geological Survey, National Park Service, Western Area Power Administration and the National Weather Service.  This allowed   excellent interaction and discussion regarding the challenges and opportunities we face in the Missouri River Basin. MoRAST spent a considerable amount of time on MRAPS in 2010, as further described in this article: Update regarding Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS).

In addition to the business portion of each meeting, informative presentations were made on various topics at these meetings by the representatives of various agencies and individuals. Updates were received on the status of the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS) and various aspects of the Missouri River Recovery Program, including the Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan (MRERP) and the activities of the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC).  In addition, the USACE Missouri River Water Management office provided updates at each meeting on the status of current hydrological conditions in the basin, reservoir operational issues and the status of the Annual Operating Plan. Agendas, minutes and other information from these and other meetings can be found on the MoRAST website: Meetings

New officers: New officers were elected during 2010. Current Officers are Chair: Mike Hayden, Secretary, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; Vice Chair:  Todd Sando, State Engineer, North Dakota Water Commission; Secretary: Sue Lowry, Administrator, Interstate Streams Division, Wyoming State Engineer’s Office; Treasurer: Kirk Nelson, Western Region Parks Manager, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; and At Large Member of the Executive Committee: Rodney Bordeaux, President, Rosebud Sioux Tribe. The Board also expressed its appreciation for the great leadership of past Chair, Mary Sexton, Director, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, who served as MoRAST Chair for nearly two years.

Congressional activities: Pursuant to direction by the Board, MoRAST monitored actions and pursued its priorities in Congress and with Federal agencies.  In March, the Executive Director and several officers and members of the Board made a trip to Washington DC.  Some members of the group met with Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant  Secretary of Army (CW), various officials in the Department of Interior, and members and staff of Congress. Key priorities included implementation and funding of MRAPS, the Missouri River   Recovery Program, enhanced cultural resources protection and USGS water data programs, as well as removal of the current statutory restrictions on federal reimbursement of travel  for MRRIC members.

The MoRAST Technical Committee met on August 10-11 at Gavins Point Dam to develop recommendations regarding the USACE Annual Operating Plan for the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System and the scoping process for MRAPS. The MoRAST Board submitted final recommendations to the USACE on both these issues.

Executive Director position: David Pope has announced that he does not plan to continue in the position of Executive Director after June 30, 2011. As a result, a Search Committee is seeking applicants for an independent contractor to serve in this role, carry out the policies of the board and the administrative functions of MoRAST in accordance with a scope of work to be developed in conjunction with the MoRAST Board. The vacancy announcement for the position can be found at here: 2010 Position Announcement Executive Director. The closing date for applications is February 4, 2011.

Applications should be submitted to Garland Erbele, Search Committee Chairman, Missouri River Association of States & Tribes, South Dakota DENR, 523 East Capitol, Pierre, South Dakota 57501. The Board plans to conduct interviews on March 7, 2011 in Nebraska City, NE and hopes to have someone on the job by May 1 to provide for a smooth transition.

Mr. Pope indicated that it has been great working with the Board and the many other people involved in Missouri River issues. He said serving as Executive Director has been rewarding, but he is ready to transition to retirement while doing some limited consulting work in the water and natural resources field. He noted that the issues in the Basin are complex and challenging, but the river system holds great promise for the future. It is his hope that the social, economic, cultural and environmental needs of the people throughout the Basin can be met while restoring the ecosystem.

Update regarding Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS)

December 1st, 2010 | Posted by David Pope in News | Newsletter - (Comments Off on Update regarding Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study (MRAPS))

In 2008, MoRAST requested a study to determine whether changes are needed to the authorized purposes of the 1944 Flood Control Act in order to best meet the contemporary needs of the Missouri River Basin, because the physical, economic and environmental conditions have significantly changed since 1944. MRAPS was authorized by Congress in March of 2009 and formally initiated by the USACE in October of 2009. In early 2010, A Situation Assessment was developed to provide recommendations to the USACE on how best to engage the Tribes and public during the study. The USACE, with assistance of the USBR, then held a series of 31 public meetings and 11 Tribal focus meetings between May and September of 2010 to obtain input regarding the scope of the study. MoRAST provided written comments regarding the scope of study including a detailed list of questions for potential consideration during the study that can be found at the MoRAST website. It is expected that a draft scoping report will be released in early 2011. Comments submitted by various parties, meeting announcements and other information about MRAPS and the Pick-Sloan Program can be found on the MRAPS website at:  http://www.mraps.org/

The purpose of the study is to review the original project purposes of the 1944 FCA and other subsequent and relevant legislation and judicial rulings to determine if changes to the authorized project purposes and existing Federal water resource infrastructure may be warranted. Both the USACE and the USBR operate projects originally constructed as a part of the Pick-Sloan Program authorized by the 1944 FCA. According to the Supplemental Implementation Guidance dated January 6, 2010, the study approach will follow the USACE six step planning process. A decision document will be prepared in compliance with NEPA and other applicable laws with comprehensive public participation for approval of the USACE Headquarters and the Assistant Secretary of Army (CW). MoRAST expects the study will provide objective information and recommendations from which interested parties and ultimately Congress can consider whether changes should be made to the 1944 FCA. Additional background information and documents related to the study can be found at:  http://www.mraps.org/documents.