Progress is being made regarding IRCs. During a meeting with commercial sand dredging interests that CPMR participated in, USACE Kansas City District staff announced suspension of work on IRC sites at Overton North (RM 185-187) and Bryan Island (RM 22-26). The dredging industry voiced major concerns about business impacts at both of these sites, and we thank USACE for listening and adjusting their plans.
Concerns remain surrounding impacts of IRC projects to line-haul navigation, primarily because these projects are being built in bends. On July 6, CPMR Executive Director Dan Engemann, Tom Horgan of AWO and Karen Rouse, MO DNR, met with USACE Kansas City District staff to discuss these concerns. USACE staff indicated a willingness to explore concerns further by talking to specific navigators on the river. More conversation will follow soon.
Despite unresolved human consideration concerns, the USACE and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are committed to building 12 IRC sites on the lower river during the next several years. Two IRC’s are already completed at Baltimore and Searcy Bends. As part of CPMR’s comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) submitted last year, we urged USACE to build one additional IRC and intensely study viability of this latest hypothesis for pallid sturgeon recovery before constructing additional IRCs. CPMR and its members have never opposed the IRC concept. Instead, we have repeatedly urged the Corps to take a measured approach in IRC implementation.
As part of the WRDA bill moving through Congress, CPMR worked with Congressman Sam Graves (MO-6) to get language included that prohibits additional IRC construction until USACE produces a report to Congress that ensures IRCs do not interfere with Missouri River congressionally-authorized purposes and that they are of benefit to pallid sturgeon recovery. This legislation (HR 8) passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously and later was approved by the House 408-2. We expect the Senate to take up its version of WRDA soon.