Minutes of the

Upper Mississippi River System

Environmental Management Program

Coordinating Committee

 

May 16, 2001

Spring Quarterly Meeting

 

Radisson Quad Cities Plaza Hotel

Davenport, Iowa

 

 

 

Steve Cobb of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called the meeting to order at 8:02 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 2001.  Other EMP-CC members present were Charlie Wooley (USFWS), Scott Stuewe (IL DNR), Tom Boland (IA DNR), Steve Johnson (MN DNR), Gary Christoff (MO DOC), Terry Moe (WI DNR), and Bob Goodwin (MARAD).  A complete list of attendees follows the minutes.

 

Minutes of the February Meeting

 

Teresa Kincaid offered a correction to the draft minutes of the February 28, 2001 EMP-CC meeting, noting that the first sentence of the fourth full paragraph on p. 2 refers to MVP when it should reference MVR.  Thus, the sentence should read that “…both MVR and MVS will be able….”  Steve Johnson moved and Terry Moe seconded a motion to approve the minutes with Kincaid’s correction.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Announcements

 

Steve Cobb said MVD is quite proud of the EMP, which he described as a model environmental program.  He noted that all of the program partners have contributed to success in both the HREP and LTRMP components.  However, Cobb observed that the EMP does not do a particularly good job publicizing its successes.  Cobb encouraged the program partners to make efforts to get the word out and help build support for the program. 

 

Cobb announced several changes to the order of the agenda and introduced Roger Perk, the new EMP Regional Project Manager.

 

Flooding Effects

 

Roger Perk reported that, due to continued high water, the impacts of this spring’s flooding on HREPs have not yet been fully assessed.  According to Perk, projects known to have sustained at least some damage include Long Lake, Finger Lakes, Pool 8 Islands Phase II, and Trempealeau Refuge in MVP; Princeton Refuge, Spring Lake, and Lake Odessa in MVR; and Swan Lake in MVS.  Gordon Farabee added that the Cottonwood Island HREP is covered with water and said he anticipates significant mortality among the trees planted as part of the project.  Perk said all projects will be surveyed for damages as the floodwaters recede.  He noted that MVR anticipates construction delays this year for the Gardner Division and Pleasant Creek projects due to high water. 

 

Terry Moe requested that the Corps’ post-flood assessment consider how HREPs with levees faired relative to projects that employ other techniques.  He also asked the Corps to make recommendations, as appropriate, for modified operating practices that might reduce future flood damages to HREPs with levees.

 

Independent Technical Advisory Committee

 

Greg Ruff reviewed Section 509(a) of the 1999 Water Resources Development Act, which directs the Corps to establish an Independent Technical Advisory Committee as part of the EMP reauthorization.  Headquarters implementation guidance regarding the provision calls for MVD, in consultation with the EMP partners, to develop a proposal to implement the committee.  The guidance also directs MVD to obtain a counsel opinion regarding Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) issues and to submit the implementation proposal to HQ for approval.  Ruff presented a draft proposal, which recommends that the Independent Technical Advisory Committee serve the following purposes:  identify ways to enhance the LTRMP’s contributions to ecosystem understanding and HREP design, review the process for selecting and formulating HREPs, recommend innovative techniques for HREPs, recommend generic types of HREPs to address systemic and reach-specific needs, and recommend post-construction monitoring procedures for HREPs.

 

Ruff emphasized that the Technical Committee will report to the MVD Commander and will serve in an advisory, not a decision-making, capacity.  MVD would like to establish the committee in time for its perspectives to be considered in the 2004 Report to Congress.  Ruff said MVD envisions the committee being comprised of individuals with no direct links to the EMP.  These members would include people with expertise in fluvial geomorphology, hydraulic engineering, large river aquatic ecology, limnology, and geospatial analysis.  Ruff requested EMP-CC members’ input regarding MVD’s draft proposal by June 6.  MVD will then solicit input from other parties and develop a final proposal for discussion at the August 8 EMP-CC meeting.  After making any additional revisions, MVD will submit its proposal to Corps HQ in September, with the goal of implementing the Technical Committee in the first quarter of FY 02.

 

In response to a question from Gary Christoff, Ruff said the revised proposal, which will reflect feedback from the program partners and others, will be somewhat more detailed.  Holly Stoerker expressed concern that the Technical Committee’s proposed role in reviewing the HREP selection process could further delay the program partners’ efforts to develop and implement the new planning process.  Ruff explained that the Technical Committee will not be asked to review the HREP planning process until the partners have implemented the new process.  Steve Cobb added that the committee would be asked to look more at the scientific basis of project selection than the mechanics of the project selection process.

 

Terry Moe agreed that the Technical Committee should be asked to focus on science issues, not process questions.  However, Moe questioned how much the committee could reasonably be expected to accomplish before the 2004 Report to Congress.  He requested that EMP-CC members be permitted to observe the Technical Committee’s meetings. 

 

Gordon Farabee acknowledged the value of outside perspectives, but recommended that the Technical Committee include at least one scientist who knows the UMR and the EMP.  He said such a member would help keep the committee grounded and on track.  Ruff explained that the Corps wants the committee members to contribute fresh perspectives and experience with what has been done in other areas of the country.  He expressed concern that members would lack the necessary independence if they have worked previously on the EMP.  Steve Johnson asked what other measures the Corps anticipates taking to ensure the committee’s independence.   He emphasized that independence is not simply a matter of selecting members from outside the program partnership.  As examples of other key considerations, he cited the processes for selecting the committee’s chair and setting meeting agendas.

 

Cobb said a number of issues, including those raised by Johnson, remain to be considered.  Tom Boland said the committee will not be able to provide meaningful input on project selection, techniques, etc. unless one or more members know the UMR and the EMP.  Cobb agreed that such knowledge would be helpful, but said it would be inappropriate to include people who have been directly involved in the EMP.  John Barko suggested that the Technical Committee would benefit from having a facilitator. 

 

Robin Grawe expressed concern that MVD’s proposed composition for the Technical Committee does not include any social scientists or river management experts.  She cautioned that the committee may offer recommendations that are not publicly acceptable if people with such skills are not included on the committee.  Dick Steinbach noted that post-construction monitoring is something that the program partnership needs to refine.  He asked whether the Technical Committee’s review would be delayed until after the program partners make those changes.  Ruff said he did not see any reason to defer the Technical Committee’s consideration of post-construction monitoring.

 

HREP Planning

 

Teresa Kincaid reported that the Corps intended to have a revised version of the HREP planning framework for discussion at today’s meeting; however, efforts to prepare that document have been delayed.  Kincaid emphasized that the Corps concurs with the basic goals identified in the May 2000 planning framework previously endorsed by the EMP-CC.  Those goals are to ensure that HREPs address UMRS ecological needs, enhance public understanding and trust in the project decision-making process, and retain flexibility to ensure efficient and effective execution of the HREP program.  Kincaid said the Corps will be proposing a five-stage planning process, starting at Stage 1 with ecological planning for pools and reaches and development of a proposed ecological sequence for projects and concluding at Stage 5 with project feasibility and preparation of a definite project report (DPR).  She briefly highlighted the purpose of each stage.  Kincaid said the Corps’ proposal will provide for an Ecological Resource Team, an interdisciplinary team of large river scientists from outside of the region designed to supplement technical expertise from the UMRS. 

 

Steve Johnson noted that Kincaid had presented a great deal of new information and asked her to provide copies of her PowerPoint slides.  Gordon Farabee said the proposed process is potentially cumbersome and urged the Corps to attach timeframes to each stage to avoid delays.  Scott Whitney said the Corps anticipates that the planning process would take place on a two-year cycle.

 

Kincaid said MVR will provide EMP-CC members with a revised draft describing the new HREP planning process through Stage 4 at the end of May.  EMP-CC members will be asked to comment on the revised draft in June and the EMP-CC will discuss the planning process further at its August 8 meeting.  Kincaid said the Corps expects to prepare a final report in October and implement the new process beginning in FY 02. 

 

Robin Grawe asked whether the district-level groups will consider budget issues in developing their sequencing recommendations.  Kincaid replied that the district groups will be asked to develop recommendations that include flexibility to adjust to different budget scenarios.  Kincaid noted the importance of good program execution in shaping future budgets and emphasized the need to have sufficient capability and flexibility to take advantage of opportunities. 

 

Dick Steinbach observed that the 50-year design life requirement for HREPs has impeded flexibility and innovation at times.  He asked whether the new planning process will include provisions for some smaller projects that are more experimental in nature.  Steve Cobb said there is some opportunity, on a case-by-case basis, to streamline the process and perhaps relax design standards.  However, he emphasized that such modifications would not be done programmatically. 

 

Roger Perk described the Corps’ near-term HREP planning strategy.  Each interagency district team has been asked to develop a short list of quality HREP proposals. The Corps will review the district lists and recommend an ordered list of projects for planning starts.  The EMP-CC will have an opportunity to review the ordered list and MVD will subsequently review and approve the list.  The districts will then initiate feasibility planning on the approved projects in FY 02.  Perk explained that this approach is intended to ensure that program execution does not suffer during the transition to the new planning process.  He briefly reviewed the current status of each district’s efforts to identify interim projects.

 

Long Term Resource Monitoring Program

 

Scott Whitney briefly reviewed the LTRMP’s three FY 01 bathymetry work items.  In answer to a question from Gordon Farabee, Whitney said the bathymetric data collection efforts were targeted to areas where there are data gaps or where the data are oldest.  Whitney said the fisheries sampling analysis is on-going.  Preliminary analyses are posted on-line and program partners have been asked to comment.  The fisheries analysis work group will be examining nine different options.

 

Whitney reported that high water has been a problem for the main channel fisheries sampling effort this year.  Equipment problems delayed the work last year.  Whitney said the effort should resume shortly.  The sampling will be done on the Illinois River’s Alton Pool. 

 

The HNA Query Tool is using different software to improve accessibility.  Whitney reported that UMESC is responding to many requests for the Query Tool.  He noted that copyright issues have delayed distribution via UMESC’s web site.

 

Gordon Farabee asked whether any of the field stations are doing sampling in the floodplains to assess potential fisheries benefits from this year’s flood.  Whitney said the LTRMP is basing its flood-related monitoring strategy on its experience from 1993.  Currently, flood-related monitoring is focused on water quality.  Fish sampling is following its regular schedule at present because there is a lag between the occurrence of a flood and the time when the results of any increased floodplain spawning can be monitored.  Whitney said the LTRMP will attempt to assess fisheries impacts later.  He also reported that UMESC’s web site will serve aerial photos of this spring’s flooding.  These photos cover the river from the Twin Cities to Muscatine, Iowa.  Currently, there is no funding available to digitize the flood photos.  In response to a question from Dick Steinbach, Teresa Kincaid said she did not expect funding for flood photos below Muscatine.  Kincaid and Gary Loss explained that the river below Muscatine was photographed in 1993.  According to Kincaid and Loss, the flood elevations for the two events on this stretch of the river are not sufficiently different to warrant using P.L. 99 funds to obtain new photos.  Steve Cobb suggested geo-referenced satellite data as a possible alternative.

 

Terry Moe noted that the National Academy of Sciences’ report on the navigation study includes a recommendation for the LTRMP to conduct increased navigation effects research.  He observed that the Master Plan identified navigation effects as one of the reasons for establishing the EMP.  According to Moe, there is a perception developing that the Corps and USGS are working closely together to shape the LTRMP, potentially at the expense of partnership decision-making through the A-Team.  He expressed concern with such an approach and urged that the LTRMP not be focused overly on research at the expense of monitoring.  Cobb said the Corps is currently evaluating all recommendations in the NAS report, including the recommendation regarding navigation effects research by the LTRMP.  Cobb said the Corps has not yet made any decisions.  As the federal agencies work out options for responding to the NAS report, Cobb said the Corps will seek input from the states and others.  Cobb agreed with Moe that one of the LTRMP’s fundamental purposes is monitoring. 

 

Moe said the LTRMP has been subject to a number of reviews and has developed a good system over time for guiding its work, including the operating plan and annual work plans.  Moe urged that the existing documents and process be used in considering any potential new priorities.  Cobb agreed that the LTRMP documents and process should be used.  Moe expressed concern that some within the Corps do not seem to have the same respect for the partnership process and collaboratively developed guidance documents.  Tom Boland observed that there have been several key personnel changes affecting the LTRMP and that roles are still being determined.  Boland said Iowa shares Moe’s concern that the partnership process be preserved.  He also expressed Iowa’s position that monitoring is the backbone of the LTRMP, but emphasized that research is an important component as well.

 

Program Management

 

FY 01 Fiscal Performance

 

Teresa Kincaid reported that, as of March 31, 2001, $928,000 in savings and slippage had been restored to the EMP.  MVR and MVS have additional capabilities this year and will be seeking restoration of more savings and slippage.  Terry Moe noted that FY 00 carry-in includes some program coordination funding.  He expressed concern with the potential for funds to build up in this account and suggested reprogramming unneeded administrative funds.  Kincaid replied that it is unusual for the EMP to carry forward administrative funds.  Gary Loss said the Corps strives to expend fully in all EMP categories in order to put the program in the best possible position for future appropriations.  Kincaid also noted that the $456,000 in FY 01 Corps LTRMP technical support is not comprised entirely of administrative and oversight costs.  Approximately $400,000 of this total is going to contracts.

 

SOW for Service Tasks

 

Terry Moe recalled that the EMP-CC members were originally told they would have an opportunity to comment on the COE/FWS scope of work prior to it being finalized.  Moe expressed concern with the actual process, whereby the other partners only saw the SOW after it was finalized.  Charlie Wooley emphasized that the Service is fully committed to the program partnership.  He expressed regret regarding the rushed process to develop the scope and committed his agency to making future SOW development more transparent to the other partners.  Kincaid concurred with Wooley.  Wooley went on to assure Moe that the substance of the final FY 01 SOW is consistent with what was discussed at previous EMP‑CC meetings.

 

Moe agreed that the substance of the scope was consistent with what was previously discussed and said he would appreciate a more transparent process for developing the agreements in future years.  Moe also expressed Wisconsin’s fundamental opposition to the transfer of funds from the Corps to the Service.  Moe said Wisconsin believes the Service should contribute its staff time to the HREP program, as do the states.  Gary Christoff observed that the Corps transfers planning funds to the states for their field work in support of the Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Program.  According to Christoff, the Corps does not transfer funds for the states’ administrative costs.  Greg Ruff postulated that this difference in practice may have its basis in the fact that the Missouri River program is a mitigation project.  Gary Loss said MVR would explore what is being done on the Missouri River and report back at the August EMP-CC meeting.  Terry Moe emphasized that Wisconsin would oppose transfer of EMP funds to any partner agency, be it federal or state, to support their HREP planning activities.

 

HREP Updates

 

Tom Boland observed that MVR’s HREP status sheet lists the Pool 12 overwintering project as deferred.  Boland asked for clarification, noting that there has been activity on the project.  Janet Hodges said the project is in design.  Boland expressed surprise with the $14 million cost estimate.  Roger Perk said the $14 million estimate is for dredging all of the seven potential areas.  Accoring to Perk, it is unlikely all seven areas will ultimately be dredged.  Boland asked about the status of the Smith Lake project and Kara Mitvalsky reported that the first draft of the feasibility report should be complete this fall.

 

In response to a question from Boland, Charlie Wooley clarified the Service’s recent letter regarding disposal of dredged material from the proposed Pool 12 overwintering project.  According to Wooley, the Service’s April letter simply asked the Corps to assess upland disposal alternatives to sidecasting.  He said the letter does not insist upon upland disposal for this project, or for HREPs more generally.  Wooley said the Service will continue to consider disposal of dredged material from HREPs on a case-by-case basis. 

 

Terry Moe asked about the Activity Report’s reference to adaptive measures for the Bertom McCartney project.  Charlene Carmack explained that erosion is widening an inlet to Bertom Lake, raising the potential that excessive flow and sediment will reach the lake.  This could reduce the life of the project and/or the value of the habitat.  Carmack explained that MVR is currently assessing the extent of the problem and will then explore options for addressing it.  Mitvalsky noted that monitoring suggests water quality may be improving in response to the increased size of the inlet.  Scott Whitney said a scour hole may be developing and observed that this would be an unintended benefit.

 

In response to a question from Terry Moe, Mike Kruckeberg explained that a single DPR was prepared for the Batchtown project.  Project construction is being done in three phases.  Deb Foley suggested that it might be easier to track the project if its spreadsheet entry was broken down to reflect the three phases.  Gordon Farabee requested that the spreadsheets identify the state(s) for each HREP, noting that currently the state is listed for some projects and not for others.

 

Boland asked about the process for reopening projects that were not properly completed or that are not functioning as designed.  He expressed disappointment that the capping and planting were never completed at the Brown’s Lake project.  Kincaid said MVR will look into the matter and report back at the EMP-CC’s August meeting on the process for reopening projects.

 

FY 02 Budget Request

 

Kincaid reported that President Bush has requested $21.0 million for the EMP in FY 02.  The Corps’ expressed capability figure for FY 02 is $33.0 million.  Attached is a sheet showing how funding at these two levels would likely be allocated within the EMP.  Loss reported on recent Congressional visits, noting that members were pleased the Corps is ready to execute a fully funded program.  Farabee asked about the proposed allocation of HREP funds among the three districts.  Kincaid said the Corps anticipates using the river mile-based allocation formula for the last time in FY 02.  She said future allocations will be based on the ecological sequencing identified through the HREP planning process.

 

Other

 

Kincaid reported that MVS will develop a project cooperation agreement (PCA) template using the Cuivre Island agreement as a model.  Foley said the template will reflect the WRDA 99 cost sharing formula and other PCA provisions that have changed since execution of the Cuivre Island agreement.  Kincaid also reported that MVR continues to work on the EMP Guidance Compendium as part of the EMP web site.  The program authorizing legislation is currently posted on the site.  In response to a question from Christoff, Mitvalsky said the states and others are welcome to link their sites to the EMP site.  Mitvalsky said the Corps’ EMP site will include links to the partner agencies’ sites.

 

Kincaid provided a brief update on the pool/reach planning efforts in each of the three districts.  MVP has pool plans out for review and will be conducting public meetings in the near future.  MVR and MVS will be developing preliminary products for all pools this summer.

 

Public Involvement

 

Teresa Kincaid briefly described the basis for current efforts to develop an EMP public involvement plan.  She noted that the partnership Report to Congress called for enhanced public involvement in the program and that Corps headquarters picked up on this in its EMP implementation guidance.  Initially, MVR consulted with its in-house public involvement specialists regarding possible techniques and approaches.  At its November meeting, the EMP-CC recommended that the Corps first focus on refining the purpose of the public involvement effort before considering techniques.  After consulting with an ad-hoc interagency group, Kincaid prepared a draft goals and objectives document, which was discussed at the February 28, 2001 EMP-CC meeting.  Kincaid noted that the draft in the current agenda packet is not substantially different from the one discussed in February, with the exception of an additional section identifying potential public involvement tools.  She briefly reviewed the draft and indicated that she did not receive any comments from EMP‑CC members following the February meeting.

 

Terry Moe questioned the proposed use of video as a tool, noting that videos are expensive to produce and become dated.  Robin Grawe suggested sponsoring awards at regional science fairs as a means of outreach. 

 

Kincaid requested comments on the draft public involvement strategy by June 6.  MVR will revise the draft plan in June and July and coordinate further with the EMP-CC at its August meeting.  MVR will then forward the plan to MVD in September or October, and MVD will submit the plan to HQ in November 2001.

 

Other Business

 

Holly Stoerker announced the following dates and locations for future EMP-CC meetings:  August 8, 2001 in La Crosse, Wisconsin; November 15, 2001 in St. Louis, Missouri; and February 28, 2002 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.  The navigation study Governors Liaison Committee and the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association are scheduled to meet on the two days prior to each of these dates.

 

EMP-CC members identified the following topics for the August 8 agenda:

·       reports on flood damage to HREPs, including an assessment of how projects with levees faired relative to other types of projects;

·       options for addressing flood damaged projects;

·       process for reopening projects; and

·       information regarding the transfer of funds to the states under the Missouri River Mitigation Program.

 

It was agreed to defer a presentation on the LTRMP’s flood monitoring findings until the November meeting.

 

Tom Edwards said he would like more information on project status at EMP-CC meetings.  Edwards said he found the habitat project showcase format particularly helpful.  In response to a question from Gary Loss, Barb Naramore noted that the EMP-CC had made a deliberate decision to eliminate the project showcase and the detailed district HREP updates.  This was done in an effort to focus the EMP-CC agendas on policy issues and shorten the overall meeting length.  Members had agreed that questions regarding the status of specific projects were best dealt with in other forums and through direct communication with agency staff.  Scott Whitney noted that the EMP web site is an excellent source of HREP information, including evaluation reports for individual projects.  After some discussion, EMP-CC members agreed to include a brief habitat project showcase on future agendas when feasible and appropriate.  The showcase will focus on the unique features, special challenges, and outcomes of an individual HREP.

 

Mike Kruckeberg reported that the EMP workshop will be held in St. Louis on either October 17-18 or October 24-25.  He distributed a list of potential topics, noting that the workshop will focus on “lessons learned,” with an emphasis on linking the HREP and LTRMP components.  Kruckeberg said some, but not all, partner agencies had identified a POC to assist in workshop planning.  He indicated that planners have decided to limit the target audience to those involved with the EMP.

 

 

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

 


EMP-CC Attendance List

May 16, 2001

 

 

Steve Cobb

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVD

Charlie Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3

Scott Stuewe

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Tom Boland

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Steve Johnson

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Gary Christoff

Missouri Department of Conservation

Terry Moe

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Bob Goodwin

Maritime Administration

Greg Ruff

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVD

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Gary Loss

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Teresa Kincaid

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Roger Perk

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Scott Whitney

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Janet Hodges

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Kara Mitvalsky

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Larry Barnett

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Charlene Carmack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Steve Johnson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Darron Niles

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Deb Foley

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Mike Kruckeberg

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Mike Thompson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

John Barko

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC

Keith Beseke

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Dick Steinbach

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mark Twain NWR

Mike Steuck

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Amy Denz

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Gordon Farabee

Missouri Department of Conservation

Ken Brummett

Missouri Department of Conservation

Jerry Vineyard

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Robin Grawe

Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission

Tom Edwards

River Rescue

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association