Floodway permit will be appealed

Monday, December 16, 2002

The Army Corps of Engineers isn't going down without a fight over the St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Floodway project. Nor should it.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, fresh from stalling Cape Girardeau County out of a power plant that would have brought new jobs and an influx of money, now has determined that a project that would project thousands of acres of farmland and thousands of Bootheel residents from damaging Mississippi River floods isn't good for the wetlands or the trees in Big Oak Tree State Park.

Amazingly, this decision was reached after the project had been on the table for half a century and was only months away from the start of construction. The Corps of Engineers argued that it had worked to balance needed flood protection with environmental concerns and had agreed to plant trees on 8,375 acres of land to make up for damaging wetlands.

The DNR has yet to rule on the merits of the floodway plan. It sidestepped a clear-cut decision by basing its ruling on a dispute between two federal agencies: the Corps of Engineers and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.

If the Missouri Clean Water Commission overrules the DNR's action, construction could begin as early as April. If either side disagrees with the commission, the matter will go to court.

Meanwhile, children in Pinhook, Mo., can keep going to school by tractor-trailer every time it floods.

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