12 November 2010

Draft EIS Available for Corps' Sandbar Program

A draft environmental impact statement has been released by the Army Corps of Engineers for the Mechanical Creation and Maintenance of Emergent Sandbar Habitat on the Riverine Segments of the Upper Missouri River.

"The Corps is implementing the emergent sandbar habitat program for for the benefit and recovery of the interior population of the least tern and the northern Great Plains population of the piping plover," said Kelly Crane, biologist and program manager for the Corps. "We welcome and encourage input by Tribal governments, Federal, state and local agencies, and the general public. All input will be considered when writing the final Emergent Sandbar Habitat Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement."

The programatic EIS is an analysis of the "potential environmental consequences of implementing the ESH program on the Missouri River," according to an agency press release. "The study allows the public, cooperating agencies (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service), and Corps decision makers to compare impacts among a range of alternatives. The goal is to inform the selection of a preferred alternative that allows for the creation and replacement of sufficient habitat to support tern and plover populations on the Missouri River in a safe, efficient and cost-effective manner that minimizes negative environmental consequences. The EIS is required to "provide National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) coverage for the mechanical construction" of emergent sandbar habitat.

Information about the Emergent Sandbar Habitat Programmatic EIS is available online at the Missouri River Recovery Program website. The document comprises nearly 1200 pages.

The comment period will be open from November 1, 2010 to January 21, 2011.

Public meetings will take place in December 2010 and January 2011, at the following locations:

- Tuesday, November 30: Bismarck, North Dakota, Best Western Doublewood Inn & Conference Center, 1400 E. Interchange Avenue, Bismarck, N.D.
- Thursday, December 2: Fort Peck, Montana, Fort Peck Interpretive Center & Museum, Lower Yellowstone Rd., Fort Peck, Mont.
- Tuesday, December 7: Pierre, S.D. Best Western Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center, 920 W. Sioux Avenue, Pierre, S.D.
- Wednesday, December 8: Yankton, S.D., Riverfront Event Center, 121 W. 3rd Street, Yankton, S.D.
- Thursday, December 9: Sioux City, Iowa, Stoney Creek Inn & Conference Center, 300 3rd Street, Sioux City, Iowa
- Wednesday, January 5, 2011: Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University Mike & Josie Harper Center, 602 N. 20th Street, Omaha, Neb.
- Thursday, January 6, 2011: Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City Marriott Country Club Plaza, 4445 Main Street, Kansas City, Mo.

The tentative schedule for the public involvement meetings is:

5:00 - 6:15 pm open house
6:15 - 7:00 pm presentation
7:00 - 8:00 pm questions/comments/more open house