MRRIC Final Consensus – Recommendation/Support Letters to USACE and USFWS

During a webinar held on June 27, MRRIC gave final consensus approval to the following recommendations and statements of support to both USACE and the USFWS. MRRIC members spent many hours on these recommendations, stemming from work group discussions that began in February. The agencies plan to respond to MRRIC in 60 days. Below is a sampling of 52 recommendations and/or statements of support that are of interest to CPMR members:

  • Apply a scientific/systematic approach to hypothesizing and testing HC concerns.
  • Collaborate with the MRRIC Bird Work Group, Fish Work Group, and HC Work Group on developing criteria for ESH and IRC site selection early in the process (CPMR language).
  • Develop and implement a monitoring plan to gather information about the concurrent river stage and flow that can be reference to potential HC impacts from natural high flow events being monitored for pallid sturgeon spawning response (CPMR edited this language).
  • Evaluate the effects of natural, high flow events on pallid sturgeon spawning cues and prior to the date that the test flow should be implemented, recommends the USACE collaborate with MRRIC to identify: a) the timing, frequency, magnitude, and rate-of-change of flows that are thought to be the mechanism for a possible spawning cue and why changes in flow are needed based on the results of management actions to achieve pallid sturgeon objectives; b) the positive and negative impacts on authorizes purposes and c) when and if test flows are consistent with the Master Manual, and under what circumstances this would include deviations from the water control criteria, and what public engagement and/or NEPA review would be done (CPMR edited this language).
  • Evaluate the Middle Mississippi, as well as the tributaries to the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, for their contributions to MRRP pallid sturgeon objectives including, but not limited to, collaborating with others who have experience and programs on these systems.
  • Explore opportunities to carryover and reallocate FY ’18 funds currently allocated to the ESH construction related activities in the Garrison Reach as a result of a net gain of 257 standardized acres of ESH between July 2016 and September 2017. This net gain is a result of ESH creation exceeding erosion during this time period resulting in a northern region ESH acreage of 1443 acres that far exceeds the ESH target of 460 acres. In addition, high flows are anticipated for the summer of 2018 that have the potential to create additional ESH.
  • Fund MRRIC at the level necessary to fulfill its Congressional mandate.
  • Include more robust approaches for predicting and assessing retention of pallid larvae, food production, and foraging within IRCs (and that approaches be demonstrated applicable over a wide range of river discharges) as the Draft SAMP is revised.
  • Regarding habitat project site selection and design, achieve greater transparency around this kind of outreach/engagement (e.g. enhancing the communication/notification process). The USACE’s outreach should include proactive measures to meet with stakeholder outside of an in addition to the traditional NEPA open house meeting format. The Corps should utilize MRRIC and HC Work Group members to the greatest extent possible to gain insight regarding potential HC impacts of management plan actions (CPMR language).
  • Use results of Level-1 and Level-2 studies to ensure that higher Level-3 and Level-4 actions are informed by the science in a manner consistent with the SAMP.

 


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