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High Country News October 27, 1986

The Missouri River: In Search of Destiny

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The Missouri River: Developed, but for what?

America can't keep its hands off its rivers. In the Columbia and Colorado basins, the damming and diverting has produced new economic bases, enormous amounts of irrigated desert lands and green cities in what was desert. But the transformation of the long, wide, muddy Missouri has had little effect on the region.

'The most useless river there is'

Today, the Missouri River has been transformed, but residents of the northern plains still struggle with the question of how to use its water.

The real water lawyers

Ditch riders on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation work with an aged, deteriorated system, very rough measuring means, and farmers who are quick to assume that they are being shorted.

How could anyone oppose, or favor, the Garrison Project?

North Dakota's Garrison Project would irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres, cost about $1 million per farm, devastate wildlife habitat, and add only a tiny fraction to the state's farmland. But the project would also reassure a remote, hurting and suspicious part of America.

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