Blaming a bureaucratic process that has dragged on for too long without progress, South Dakota officials have withdrawn their state from the Missouri River Basin Association.
Nettie Myers, secretary of the
state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said, "It
seems like we have the same meetings over and over, and nothing is
The Missouri River Basin
Association was founded in 1981 by eight Missouri River state
governors. Their aim was to bring river states together to settle
disputes without resorting to litigation or congressional
The river basin's upper and lower
regions have long disagreed, with the lower basin wanting the river
controlled for barging and the upper basin wanting water left in
reservoirs for recreation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which
controls the river and its dams, has always said navigation comes
According to Richard Opper, executive
director of the Missouri River Basin Association, the organization
is making headway as it attempts to bring the basin's interest
groups - including Indian tribes whose land was flooded by dams -
and states together. Opper said a recent goal of the association
has been to identify areas of agreement in states along the river.
While he sympathized with South Dakota's impatience, Opper said,
the state's pullout "is squandering an opportunity."
Six years ago, when the Corps of Engineers
reviewed its management of Missouri River dams, reformers were
hopeful. Since then, numerous public meetings have been held, and
many studies and reports issued. Yet the Corps' management remains
Last June, the Corps announced it
intended to delay a final decision on proposing management
revisions for at least two more years. Myers and others concerned
about protecting water levels in the Missouri's upper-basin
reservoirs accused the Corps of delaying its decision to placate
political interests in the lower basin. The lower basin is
generally happy with the Corps' emphasis on barging and prefers
that the agency operate the river as it has for the past 30
For Myers and her boss, South Dakota Gov.
William Janklow, the two-year delay was the final insult. "Justice
delayed is justice denied," said Myers. "I think what the Corps is
doing is unconscionable."
Myers charged that the
Corps does not sit at the bargaining table as an equal partner with
Missouri River states. "The Corps operates independently," she
said. "They are not accountable."
countered Richard Opper, "will listen to the states if we can agree
on the issues."
Carrels reports from Aberdeen, South
If endangered salmon
trying to reach central Idaho didn't have enough to worry about,
now they need to dodge tires. Over the Labor Day weekend, drivers
of all-terrain vehicles blasted through two miles of prime spawning
grounds for salmon and bull trout along the upper Salmon River. The
marauders tore up gravel and algae in the stream and damaged
streambanks near Galena Summit.
Officials at the
nearby Sawtooth Fish Hatchery fear that two wild female chinooks
may have spawned in the now-damaged stretch. Three years ago, three
salmon spawning nests, called redds, were found in the same area.
The two fish were the only native females that have reached the
hatchery this year, along with 35 other spring/summer chinook, a
"It's unfortunate that this type of
behavior reflects badly on all ATV users," said Paul Ries, a ranger
for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Ries said they have not
caught the vandals. "Warren Cornwall