Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Missouri River Blues

Dear editor:

May 1, 2006, will be remembered as a turning point in the management of the Missouri River.

It marks the day in which the Corps of Engineers heeded the call of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and announce the first biennial man-made spring rise on the Missouri River.

After 17 years of legislation and litigation, government biologists have succeeded in putting the perceived needs of a fish above those who live or earn their living near the Missouri River.

The journey to a man-made rise has been long and complex.

Bureaucrats and environmentalists have used the pallid sturgeon as a Trojan horse, the ultimate goal being the end of commercial navigation and the purchase of all land in the river bottom from "willing" sellers.

This grand "vision" was recently pontificated by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt during his visit to Missouri.

Unfortunately, what seems to get lost in the rhetoric is the ability to manage the river for multiple uses. It does not have to be all or nothing. The courts have ruled that flood control and navigation take precedence; however, there is a sincere desire among many stakeholders to also consider such things as recreation, fish and wildlife, hydropower and municipal drinking water supplies.

Attorney General Nixon has sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating they have not complied with federal law in implementing the man-made spring rise. I applaud his efforts, as well as those of Governor Blunt and members of the Missouri Congressional delegation who continue to believe the pending spring rise is nothing more than a grand experiment.

Doesn't it make more sense to promote habitat enhancement by working with landowners than insisting upon unproven flow modifications?

It is unfortunate it has come to this.

While this year's man-made rise is only a few inches, it has opened the gate; you can bet environmentalists and government biologists will call for spring rises in the future to be of higher magnitude and longer duration.

Who knows, maybe Secretary Babbitt will ultimately get his national park free of levees and those pesky people who happen to live there.

Charles E. Kruse

president of Missouri Farm Bureau