Thanks IRR for being a participant in the process.
June 28, 2013
The Honorable Terry Branstad
Governor of Iowa
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Dear Governor Branstad:
Iowa Rivers Revival supports the modest efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to restore riverine habitat at Little Sioux Bend. Many thousands of acres of riverine habitat were destroyed by straightening the Missouri River channel along its entire border with Iowa. These chute restoration projects would re-introduce at least a semblance of channel diversity in a small area of the river.
Straightening the Missouri River helped farming in the river valley, but was a disaster for fish and wildlife habitat. Restoration of some channel diversity is badly needed for native fish species and is being done without adverse impacts on farming or water quality.
Goals for these restoration efforts include the development of shallow water pools, emergent sandbars and bottomland forest habitat – by reconstructing chutes to restore fish and wildlife habitat and a more natural riverine system.
As a result of the recent Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, Iowa agricultural interests are opposing USACE efforts to recreate chutes and sandbar islands along Missouri River tributaries to help restore endangered species and protect critical wildlife habitat that was lost nearly 100 years ago. Opposition is based on the double-standard argument that agriculture interests are being asked to reduce sediment loads carrying nutrients into Iowa rivers and these recovery projects are also contributing to river nutrient loads – impacting hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are several studies that determine nutrient concentrations do not increase downstream of chutes after construction, and have little to no impact on nutrients contributing to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The benefits of these ecosystem restoration projects greatly outweigh the insignificant load levels (0.01% or less of the Missouri and Mississippi River nutrient loads), in fact these restoration projects could help reduce these loads and improve current water quality conditions.
Additionally there is concern that the additional dredge material and sediment could increase the potential for future flood events. The USACE has conducted studies determining that sediment dispersal does not impact flood stages, wildlife or habitat.
Helping Iowans restore, protect and enjoy our rivers.
PO Box 72 • Des Moines, Iowa 50301-0072 • www.iowarivers.org
Iowa Rivers Revival is an Iowa-based non-profit organization. All contributions are tax deductible.
Iowa’s land and waters have multiple values – including economic and recreational incentives for Iowans and tourists to enjoy and engage in our outdoors. Efforts to restore and mitigate losses as a result of straightening, narrowing and deepening the Missouri River not only provides critical habitat for endangered and native species, it also provides healthy, quality of life opportunities that will attract and retain young Iowans, helping to boost our local economies.
We urge the Iowa DNR to support the USACE projects on the Little Sioux Bend, and other similar projects like Desoto Bend and Wilson Island, and allow them to continue restoration and mitigation projects that will improve the function and value of the Missouri River Valley.
cc: Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Bill Northey, Director of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship