An independent scientific review panel has looked at the practice of the spring rise on the Missouri River and found it wanting.
A revised plan for two spring pulses, as the Corps of Engineers calls them, was approved in 2006. The surge of water is intended to cue spawning for an endangered species of fish, the pallid sturgeon. The last time one was conducted was 2009, with the conditions on the River precluding it in the past two springs.
The Corps hired a “Third Party Science Neutral;” one individual who assembled the panel, and set it to the task of studying the rise and providing a report on what should happen with it. The report will be presented to the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) at its meeting this week in Denver, Colorado.
Engineer Joseph Gibbs only recently opted not to remain on the Committee, but has been with it since its inception. He has seen three drafts of the panel’s report. He says it finds no benefit in the spring rise, given the way the River is presently operated. The panel is recommending that other water release practices be studied.
The panel’s report will be delivered to MRRIC which will work with eight federal agencies to decide what the future of the spring rise will be.
Gibbs says he is confident the panel came to its conclusions without bias. He notes, no members of MRRIC could speak to members of the panel, in order to protect that impartiality.
As for Gibbs, he says this will be the first MRRIC meeting he has not intended. He intends to remain involved in that body’s work.