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.