Opponents voice concerns on Missouri River plan

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Opponents to U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposals to change water flow on the Missouri River say the proposals threaten water transportation on the Mississippi.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing in Cape Girardeau Monday to collect comments on the revised draft environmental impact statement for the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual.

Sen. Kit Bond, as well as representatives from the governor's and state representative's offices, testified at the hearing, voicing their opposition to proposed changes in the current water control plan.

Revisions to the plan call for changing the quantity and timing of flows from storage basins along the upper Missouri River and would affect water levels of the Mississippi.

One goal of the changes is to protect endangered and threatened species, such as the least tern and piping clover, which are small shorebirds, and the pallid sturgeon, a bottom-feeding fish.

Describing the project as "the Fish and Wildlife Service spring flood" plan, Bond said people should not be treated like guinea pigs in a governmental experiment with floodwaters.

"Medical doctors are neighborly enough to experiment on laboratory rats, not U.S. citizens," Bond said, alluding to the fact that one report mentions the word experiment 40 times.

Charles Kruse, a farmer in Stoddard County and president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said the plans fail to adequately address the needs of farmers.

Either increasing the flow in spring or slowing the flow during drought conditions could be disastrous.

"We already have a spring rise, we don't need to be part of an experiment," Kruse said.

Dropping levels of water in the Missouri could affect barge traffic down the Mississippi and farmers along the river rely on river transportation to move their crops, he said.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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