Minutes of the

Upper Mississippi River System

Environmental Management Program

Coordinating Committee

 

May 17, 2006

Quarterly Meeting

 

Four Points Sheraton

Rock Island, Illinois

 

 

Charlie Wooley of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called the meeting to order at 8:33 a.m. on May 17, 2006.  Other EMP-CC representatives present were Susan Smith (USACE), Mike Jawson (USGS), Rick Mollahan (IL DNR), Martin Konrad (IA DNR), Rebecca Wooden (MN DNR), Janet Sternburg (MO DOC), Gretchen Benjamin (WI DNR), and Al Fenedick (USEPA).  A complete list of attendees follows these minutes.

 

Minutes/Summaries from February 2006 Meetings

 

Gretchen Benjamin moved and Janet Sternburg seconded a motion to approve the draft minutes of the February 22, 2006 meeting as written.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Benjamin moved and Sternburg seconded a motion to approve the draft summary of the February 21-22, 2006 EMP-CC and NECC/ECC joint workshop.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Program Management

 

FY 06 Implementation

 

Marv Hubbell explained that allocations to the EMP have increased in the past three years, due largely to reductions in savings and slippage, rather than to increases in appropriations.  The EMP’s scheduled expenditures for FY 06 total $19.835 million.  According to Hubbell, this reflects a $20.0 million appropriation, less a one percent recision, plus $35,000 in carry-over from FY 05.  There was no savings and slippage assessment in FY 06.

 

Hubbell characterized the EMP’s obligations thru the second quarter of FY 06 as typical for this point in the year.  However, the expenditure rate of 23 percent is somewhat behind the pace of recent years.  Hubbell attributed the lower expenditure rate to the Congressionally-imposed changes in contracting that were included in the FY 06 appropriations measure.

 

Hubbell recounted that, as announced at the February EMP-CC meeting, the Corps held back $805,000 in FY 06 funds that would have ordinarily been allocated to the LTRMP under the standard HREP/LTRMP allocation formula (i.e., 68.6%/31.4%).  This was in response to an estimated $1.491 million in unmet HREP needs at MVS and MVR.  More recently $650,000 of the LTRMP hold-back was transferred to MVS to cover outstanding needs associated with the Calhoun Point project.  Hubbell said the Corps is still working to address MVR’s unmet HREP needs, which were estimated at $841,000 back in February.  MVR hopes to move $555,000 from other projects to the Lake Odessa HREP. 

 

FY 07 Appropriations

 

Hubbell reported that the House energy and water appropriations subcommittee has approved an FY 07 spending measure that would provide $20 million for the EMP.  The President’s EMP request was $26.8 million.  Hubbell presented the following tentative allocations under these two funding scenarios:

 

Appropriation                                                   $26.8m                        $20.0m

  S&S reduction                                                    0.0                               0.0

  Recission (1%)                                                   0.27                             0.20

 

Administrative Costs                                            0.525                            0.525

 

Sub-total                                                          26.005                        19.275

 

LTRMP (31.4%)                                                8.166                           6.052

 

HREPs (68.6%)                                               17.839                        13.223

 

Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Projects

 

Adjusting to the New Contracting Restrictions

 

Marv Hubbell said Corps staff have been working to identify possible adjustments to HREP contracting practices in response to the Congressional prohibition on continuing contracts.  According to Hubbell, those changes might include dividing a project into several smaller increments, each with a separate contract, or executing a base contract with various options.  Lake Odessa, for example, is being structured as a base contract with options.  Both approaches would help reduce that amount of money required to fully fund a contract up front.  However, he explained that such approaches would increase total project costs by adding to mobilization/demobilization expenses and project administration costs.

 

In response to a question from Gretchen Benjamin, Hubbell said that indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts may be suitable for recurring expenses such as revegetation or project planning and monitoring.  However, the Corps’ judgment is that IDIQ contracts are not likely to be suitable vehicles for most project construction.  Don Powell reported that MVP plans to let a planning, design, and monitoring IDIQ that will not be limited to HREPs.  Instead, it will be available to support the District’s activities over a range of projects and programs.

 

SET Application of Selection Criteria

 

Hubbell reported that the System Ecological Team (SET) is scheduled to review HREP proposals from the three district teams sometime between June and August.  The SET will use the revised evaluation and sequencing document in considering the projects.  Benjamin said it is important for the SET to finally convene and conduct its first round of project reviews, after years of delay.  She emphasized that the EMP needs to remain active on project planning if the program is to remain vital, despite the uncertainty regarding the future of NESP and the EMP’s relationship to that potential new authority.  Janet Sternburg requested that the SET report on its first round efforts at the EMP-CC’s August meeting.  Hubbell said the SET will report on its efforts, either interim or final, at the August meeting.

 

Benjamin asked Hubbell to explain the delay with the SET’s work.  Hubbell attributed the delay in part to Corps staff having been reassigned to hurricane duty.  As a result, the Corps has not been able to supply the Fish and Wildlife Interagency Committee (FWIC) with some of the HNA data needed to prepare its project fact sheets.  Hubbell said he would personally work to get things moving.  Sternburg asked about the SET’s current membership.  Roger Perk said two of the original members have decided that they will not be able to participate.  John Barko, Carl Korschgen, Mike Griffin, and Jim Garvey remain on the SET.  Bob Clevenstine said the FWIC has completed the fact sheets, with the exception of the HNA acreage figures, and has ranked those projects.  Once the acreage data is supplied, the FWIC will be ready to forward the fact sheets.

 

PCAs and Project Planning

 

Rick Mollahan asked about a recent experience Illinois had on a Section 206 project.  Corps staff informed Illinois staff that they could not initiate design work until the project cooperation agreement (PCA) was signed.  Mollahan observed that this is a new policy in his experience and said it would be quite problematic for the state.  Illinois cannot sign a PCA until its cost-share funds have been appropriated and transferred to the proper account.  This typically does not happen until the project design process is well underway.  With the Section 206 project in question, for example, Mollahan said Illinois was not anticipating needing to sign a PCA for another few years.

 

Hubbell said he was not aware of this policy and observed that, for EMP HREPs, PCAs are not executed until the definite project report (DPR) is complete.  Susan Smith explained that the policy change Mollahan described applies only to the Corps’ Continuing Authorities Programs (CAPs).  Moreover, the policy will not take effect until the end of this calendar year.

 

HREP Design Handbook and Database

 

Hubbell reported that the comment period for the draft HREP Design Handbook has ended.  Efforts are now underway to revise the handbook, which should be released in July or August.  As part of the NESP preliminary engineering and design effort, the Corps may develop white papers on two restoration techniques — i.e., island building and water level management.  These papers would focus on biological response, project monitoring, and effectiveness.  In contrast, the HREP handbook focuses on project design.

 

In addition, Corps staff are continuing their efforts to add GIS data to the HREP database, which currently does not include spatial data.  The next step will be to provide program partners with access to the database via the web.  In the interim, Hubbell said the Corps will make customized summary sheets and other database products available to partners upon request.  Benjamin characterized the database as extremely useful, noting that she used information pulled from the database at a recent statewide meeting.

 

District HREP Reports

 

Powell reported that the St. Paul District has four projects in the planning stage and design work is underway for three projects.  Construction on the Spring Lake HREP is 95 percent complete.  Final seeding work is slated for next month.  Spring Lake was constructed in conjunction with channel maintenance work, and Powell said this integrated effort worked well.  MVP awarded the contract for Pool Slough, a small waterfowl project, in January 2006.  Construction commenced in March, when the frost in the ground could help support equipment.  Pool Slough has employed innovative construction techniques and is now approximately 60 percent complete.  The project, which is being cost shared by the State of Iowa, should be completed by the end of June.  Iowa has provided $75,000 in cash, real estate, and in-kind contributions.  MVP also awarded the contract for Long Meadow Lake on May 11.  Construction on this $300,000 project, which includes water control and reforestation elements, should commence soon.  Powell said the district also expects to award the Pool 8 Islands, Phase III, Stage 1 contract shortly.  This project will focus on protecting the delta area of a small creek and the banks of existing islands.  The area is heavily hunted, and the district thus wants the project completed by the end of September.  The estimated cost is $500,000, and bids are expected soon.  MVP plans to use hired labor crews to build three seed islands as part of Pool 8 Islands, Phase III, Stage 2.  In addition, the district has recently posted six HREP evaluation reports to its FTP site, and is working on seven more completion reports this year.  Powell showed slides of the Spring Lake and Pool Slough HREPs.

 

Hubbell said the Mud Lake project is nearing completion, with final grading and seeding work underway.  The inlet structures are also being reduced in size.  Having realized some savings on the Mud Lake project, these funds will help offset the shortfall on Lake Odessa.  Rice Lake is the Rock Island District’s most active project in the planning phase.  It includes a levee realignment and should be ready for construction in late FY 07 or early FY 08.  MVR will complete definite project reports (DPRs) for Pool 12 Overwintering and Fox Island.  Fact sheets have been approved recently for Huron Island and Beaver Island.  Design work on Lake Odessa Phase I is nearing completion.  Hubbell reported that the Fish and Wildlife Service will be doing a follow-up look at response to the revegetation component of the Bay Island project.  Bob Clevenstine explained that Bay Island was one of the first HREPs where intensive incremental analysis was performed.  The Service will be going back to see how well the analysis tools worked for forecasting vegetation response.  Many of the individuals from the original planning team will be involved in this follow-up work.

 

Mike Thompson reported that planning for the Pools 25/26 HREP is underway, with a draft plan almost ready for partner review.  The DPR should be completed by September.  Planning efforts will be increasing on the Ted Shanks project.  A functional analysis meeting for Wilkerson Island is scheduled for the fourth quarter of FY 06, with construction anticipated to start in FY 07.  The Batchtown HREP is being broken down into definable features for design, and St. Louis District staff are working on water quality permits for the project.  As reported earlier, MVS now has the money to fully fund Calhoun Point Phase II , and construction is expected to be completed in August. 

 

Barb Naramore asked when the prohibition on new planning starts would start to be a problem for the EMP in terms of keeping an ample number of projects in the pipeline for construction.  Hubbell said there is plenty to work on this year, and he does not anticipate a problem if the prohibition extends through FY 07.  However, Hubbell said there would be adverse effects if new planning starts were blocked in FY 08 and beyond.  MVS would be most affected in FY 08, will all three districts having problems by FY 09.  Hubbell explained that the loss of planning expertise, as staff are reassigned to other projects and programs, could have serious, long term impacts on the EMP. 

 

Clevenstine asked what would be involved in transferring some former HREPs back to the EMP from NESP.  Chuck Spitzack explained that the projects were originally transferred from EMP to NESP based on each program’s priorities, capacities, and related factors.  According to Spitzack, if NESP is not authorized in 2006, then the Corps might start to look at transferring the former HREPs back to EMP in 2007.  Janet Sternburg observed that the Schenimann Chute project seemed to fit well under NESP, where it would qualify for 100 percent federal funding.  However, if NESP appears unable to make timely progress on the project due to authorization or funding delays, Sternburg said Missouri would want to explore the possibility of funding it as a 100 percent federal HREP based on its benefits to threatened and endangered species.  At Charlie Wooley’s suggestion, the partners agreed to revisit the status of Schenimann Chute at the February EMP-CC meeting.

 

Benjamin sought to clarify whether a former HREP transferred from NESP to the EMP would be viewed as a new planning start for the EMP.  Hubbell and Susan Smith expressed confidence that it would not.  In response to a question from Naramore, Smith said the prohibition on new planning starts appears likely to be extended for at least one or two more years.

 

Long Term Resource Monitoring Program

 

FY 06 Product Status Update

 

Mike Jawson summarized the LTRMP’s second quarter product highlights, including:

 

§         Acceptance of a manuscript concerning the response of fish to increased connectivity associated with flooding

 

§         Submission of manuscripts on macrophyte response to island construction and standardizing catch per unit effort (CPUE) data associated with different gear types for community analysis

 

§         Delivery of four presentations at the UMRCC annual meeting and one presentation at the Missouri Natural Resources Conference

 

§         Completion/release of several new web products, including the water quality graphical browser for fixed site date, availability of 2005 fisheries and water quality data, and the 2004 LTRMP Annual Summary Report.

 

Jawson recalled that, at the EMP-CC’s February meeting, the USGS and Corps reported on their joint decision to modify the target audience and goals of the Status and Trends Report.  This was done with full awareness that adjusting the report accordingly would result in delays.  Since that time, according to Jawson, USGS and Corps staff have been exchanging and commenting on draft chapters of the report, seeking to ensure a consistent approach that effectively demonstrates the LTRMP’s key findings and capabilities.  Staff working on the report are still developing a revised schedule.  The goal is to have the draft report available for partner review by the end of FY 06.

 

Marv Hubbell explained that the Corps is authoring some portions of the Status and Trends Report, while USGS staff are responsible for other sections.  After a bit of a slow start and some communications problems, staff from the two agencies are now working together more effectively, according to Hubbell. 

 

Gretchen Benjamin asked what changes the Corps and USGS had made to the approach and outline they had previously shared with the partnership.  Jawson said the chapter layout remains the same.  The changes are ones of emphasis—i.e., how findings are presented and explained.  Hubbell agreed, saying the report seeks to explain the LTRMP’s statistical power and confidence and to connect findings to the program’s goals and objectives.  Hubbell said there will also be a more succinct communication of status and trends by the four geomorphic reaches, rather than a systemic approach.  In response to a question from Benjamin, Hubbell said there will be an executive summary for the report.  He said he hopes the final report will be complete in October, following partner review.

 

Jawson reminded EMP-CC members that, should additional FY 06 funding become available, it is now too late in the fiscal year for the LTRMP to undertake any new projects.  However, as he indicated at the February meeting, USGS has been working to develop a flexible list of equipment purchases that would enhance program performance in future years.  Examples include survival suits and a total nitrogen/phosphorus analyzer. 

 

Planning for FY 07

 

Jawson reported that the scope of the minimum sustainable program (MSP) in FY 07 is expected to be the same as for FY 06 and the two previous years.  This includes fish, water quality, and vegetation monitoring; analysis and reporting; statistical evaluation; data management; GIS support; and bathymetry support.  Plans call for other activities funded under MSP+ to include data visualization tools, bathymetry, glide path, additional program element (APE) program management; and LTRMP equipment refreshment.

 

Acknowledging some partners’ expressed interest in restoring more monitoring to the LTRMP, Jawson said USGS is not opposed to additional monitoring, so long as there is a clear plan for making use of the additional data.  However, if monitoring is added, Jawson said USGS believes it should be funded as an APE project. 

 

Hubbell said that any additional monitoring would need a defined purpose and would have to be compatible with a one-year funding commitment.  Thus, it would need to result in useful information/products if funded for only one year.  And it would have to be staffed in such a way that multi-year funding is not required or relied upon.  Hubbell said that, if savings and slippage does in fact go away in future years, then there may well be some additional funding available.  However, this funding is by no means guaranteed, so the Corps is not willing to expand the MSP.

 

Martin Konrad observed that some field stations are relying on the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) to support their staff.  He asked if the EMAP funding would be replaced if it is lost to the LTRMP.  Hubbell said he views the question of the field stations’ reliance on EMAP funding as separate from the issue of whether to add more monitoring back in the LTRMP.  If EMAP funding is lost, then the challenge will be to determine what additional resources are needed to maintain the MSP.

 

Jawson stressed the need to consider impacts on data power when contemplating changes in monitoring.  He suggested spending time at the August EMP-CC meeting looking at the effects that different increments of monitoring data have on power.  He noted that the added power from more monitoring may not be significant when compared with what we could get through other activities.  Benjamin said this would be very helpful as an agenda topic.  She reminded the EMP-CC members that, when the monitoring program was restructured, the state partners were not happy with the changes.  Instead, the MSP was identified as the best option for fitting within the funding constraints that were imposed.  Even at that time, several A-Team and EMP-CC members asked what the plan would be for adding monitoring back in, should additional money be available.  Because this possibility seemed so remote at the time, this question was not explored, according to Benjamin.  Now, however, that there seems to be a real prospect for some funding flexibility, she emphasized the need to identify a sound approach for restoring some of the monitoring capability that was lost.

 

Rob Maher observed that there is value to monitoring data beyond what is revealed through power analysis.  For example, on the lower pools, first period fish sampling provides crucial insight into reproductive success.  Maher reported that the A-Team has formed a group to recommend a best course for restoring some of the lost monitoring.  He explained that A-Team members would prefer to have any additional monitoring funded under the MSP+ category, rather than as an APE project.  It would thus be done only on a funds-available basis each year and no permanent staff would rely on this funding.  However, unlike APEs, no annual justification would be required and the monitoring wouldn’t compete for funding with APEs.  Instead, the additional monitoring would simply be done in years when funds are available to support it.  Maher said Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri are leaning toward adding back first period fish monitoring, while Minnesota and Wisconsin are most interested in third period vegetation monitoring.  However, the work group will be developing specific recommendations, with cost estimates, for the A-Team’s consideration. 

 

Janet Sternburg said she would like the EMP-CC to consider this issue further at is August meeting, when the A-Team’s recommendations should be available.  Hubbell agreed with Sternburg’s suggestion to continue the discussion in August.  He noted that there seems to be broad agreement among the partners on many of the fundamentals, such as no additional permanent staff, but some difference of perspective on how additional monitoring should be categorized for budget purposes.  He further observed that, when the LTRMP was restructured, the main budget categories defined were MSP and APEs.  MSP+ is a category that evolved in the past couple of years, but has not been formally defined. 

 

Jawson reviewed the seven theme areas that were developed to help target FY 07 APE proposals:

§      Fisheries limiting factors

§      Modeling land cover/land use changes in response to disturbance and management actions

§      Floodplain forest

§      Abundance and production of biota and rates of biological processes in off channel areas

§      Local ecosystem effects of elevated nutrient and suspended sediment concentrations

§      Impacts of invasive non-native species on water quality and native biota

§      Using LTRMP data to help evaluate HREPs

 

Thirty-nine preliminary proposals were submitted, and they have been evaluated against five basic criteria to determine their merit.  By the end of May, USGS will announce the 26 projects that have been selected for submission of full proposals.  The full proposals will be due by June 30, with partner reviews scheduled to be complete by early August.  USGS and the Corps will make final APE selections upon receipt of the FY 07 budget.

 

A-Team Report

 

Maher noted that the A-Team members received the FY 07 APE letters of intent (LOIs) the night before their April meeting.  As a result, the members did not spend much time at their meeting discussing the projects.  Instead, each member state/agency reviewed the LOIs separately and submitted their recommendations to the chair regarding which LOIs should be developed into a full proposal.  These were then consolidated, and the A-Team as a group recommended full proposals for any project receiving support from at least 50 percent of the members.

 

Maher emphasized that there is sound justification for adding back additional monitoring to the program.  He stressed that no one is interested in collecting data for its own sake and said the A-Team would clearly articulate the basis for its monitoring recommendations.

 

EMP Operating Approach

 

Marv Hubbell observed that the EMP is a strong, viable program with a long record of accomplishment and a clearly justified need.  While the uncertainty around NESP somewhat complicates the EMP’s outlook, decisions regarding the two programs’ interrelationship will not be made in the immediate future.  As the new EMP program manager, Hubbell said his focus will be on maintaining the EMP as a vital, fully functioning program that performs at a high level.  He described the operating approach document included in the agenda packet as his attempt to articulate how the EMP should be operating in the coming months and years.  Hubbell’s focus areas would include further refinements in regional coordination and management, increased public outreach, refinement of program goals and objectives, and better links between the collection and application of LTRMP data.

 

Charlie Wooley thanked Hubbell for his efforts in putting together the operating approach document.  Wooley expressed his comfort with the basic approach and focus areas described.  Gretchen Benjamin said she was pleased to see increased attention on public education and outreach as a focus area.  She emphasized that project coordination is a basic NEPA requirement, and should not be viewed as a meaningful public relations effort.  Instead, according to Benjamin, the EMP needs to fund a real outreach effort through its public involvement budget.  Karen Hagerty suggested the possibility of having a permanent public involvement committee for the program.

 

Mike Jawson expressed his appreciation to Hubbell for his efforts, and said the operating approach document looked good to him. 

 

Bob Clevenstine asked whether Hubbell’s proposed focus areas would permit review of Corps-imposed project requirements that may not be relevant to HREPs.  As an example, he said some projects are over-designed due to public safety requirements that are not real issues for HREPs.  Clevenstine also asked about opportunities to expedite the project planning process.  Hubbell said the Corps is certainly looking for ways to streamline project development from inception to construction.  Regarding engineering issues and constraints, Hubbell said he was not prepared to speak to the issue in detail at present.  He did note that there has been an evolution of ideas and approaches over the history of the EMP and said that history is being documented in the HREP Design Handbook.  Don Powell cautioned that there are tradeoffs regarding engineering approaches.  Some options that might reduce initial construction costs have the potential to increase the project O&M burden significantly. 

 

Mark Beorkrem encouraged the Corps to participate in wintertime fishing and boating shows as part of its EMP outreach strategy.  He added that these shows offer an opportunity to reach a large and interested audience.

 

After further discussion, it was agreed that EMP partners should review the operating approach paper included in the May EMP-CC agenda packet and provide their comments to Hubbell by July 1.  Those comments and any revisions to the paper will be discussed at the EMP-CC’s August meeting, with the expectation that the group may take action to endorse the paper at that time.

 

EMP/NESP Merger Issue Papers

 

Holly Stoerker explained that, last November UMRBA began development of a series of issues papers exploring the legislative options related to the potential merger of EMP and NESP.   The assumption was that the process would culminate in August 2006, with a proposal to forward to Congress.  However, given recent indications that the Senate will be moving forward with consideration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) this spring, the process had to be expedited.  Therefore, UMRBA developed a proposal to amend the existing NESP authorizing language in WRDA, based on what appear to be the two highest priority issues that have emerged thus far from discussion of the issue papers.  In particular, the proposal seeks to add monitoring authority to NESP by directly linking to the 1986 EMP authorization.  In addition the proposal seeks to add provisions to NESP requiring consultation with Interior and the States and providing authority for funding transfers.  Stoerker reported that these proposals have been shared with House and Senate Committee staff.  She thanked all program partners for their ideas and input regarding the issue papers and the UMRBA’s proposed amendments.

 

Barb Naramore provided an overview of the final issue paper, which focuses on the related issues of reporting to Congress and the role of advisors.  Both the EMP and NESP legislation have provisions requiring reports to Congress and establishing advisory committees or panels.  However, the provisions are not the same.  The timing and intent of the Congressional reports for the two programs differ.  In addition, the role and focus of the advisory groups differ.  Naramore described a variety of options that could be pursued, some of which would integrate or harmonize the disparate approaches and some of which would retain the differences.  For the advisory group provisions, another option would be to seek elimination of one or both of the groups.  Naramore also described a number of considerations related to report scheduling, scope of reports, the role of advisors, the composition of advisory groups, the need for advisors, and program integration.

 

Janet Sternburg said that, if the two programs are overseen by a River Council, separate reports would be overwhelming.  She expressed a strong preference for integrating the reporting requirements.  Gretchen Benjamin raised the question of what would be the best reporting interval.  She expressed a general preference for a longer interval, while still meeting the programs’ needs.

 

Stoerker observed that the reporting requirements might be an example of an issue that is better put off until the partners have some experience with both programs up and running.  Specifically, the first report that comes due after both programs are functioning, whether it is an EMP or NESP report, could be used as an opportunity to make recommendations about the future of the two programs.  That way, recommendations about specific issues like reporting requirements, would be informed by the partners’ overall vision for how the two programs might best be integrated. 

 

Mike Jawson said deferring the reporting requirement issue might be a good idea.  However, he urged the partners to consider a recommendation on the advisory groups now, and expressed concern that the two programs’ advisors might work at cross purposes if the legislative language is not reconciled.  Sternburg observed that the two groups would have very different roles.  Moreover, it is possible that the Corps may never establish the EMP’s Independent Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC), assuming appropriations remain well below authorized levels through the ITAC’s authorized funding period, which ends in FY 09. 

 

Martin Konrad observed that the current system of groups that guides the EMP, including the EMP-CC, A-Team, and district-level groups, has proven to be very effective and flexible.  He suggested that this approach could be adapted to serve NESP as well, without requiring a legislative directive.  In response to a question from Sternburg, Marv Hubbell said he is not aware that anyone has expressed concerns with the failure to establish the ITAC.  Mark Beorkrem said the impetus for the ITAC provision in the EMP reauthorization came from the NGO community.  Beorkrem said the NGOs are comfortable with the way the program has evolved since that time and said he does not anticipate any of the groups he works with raising concerns.  Gary Loss said Members of Congress have not questioned the Corps about the status of the ITAC. 

 

Benjamin said she understands the advisory committee language in NESP to have evolved from an initial attempt to provide for a River Council in the legislation.  She noted that the Science Panel currently provides some level of independent review for NESP.  If there is any effort to delete advisory panel requirements, Benjamin stressed the need to assure Congress that the essential function of the group would still be covered through other means, including the River Council and Science Panel.  Barry Johnson observed that the Science Panel members do not currently view themselves as providing independent technical review, which would be a larger and different effort than what the panel was initially tasked to do.  However, he added that the Science Panel’s role could certainly be expanded. 

 

As with the previous issue papers, Naramore encouraged EMP-CC members and others to submit additional comments on the paper to UMRBA staff, representatives, or alternates.

 

Public Outreach

 

Marvin Hubbell reported that planning efforts are underway for the EMP’s 20th anniversary celebration.  Several events are planned, ranging from recognizing the anniversary at already scheduled events, to hosting special anniversary-themed events at HREP sites, to a cornerstone celebration in conjunction with the August 23 EMP-CC meeting in La Crosse.  Hubbell explained that, to help support these events, special materials are being developed, including portable displays, postcards, and a DVD.  These materials will be available to all partners to use.  Hubbell thanked the Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, and states for their valuable contributions to the anniversary planning.

 

Regarding the August 23rd celebration, Hubbell explained that there will be a dockside recognition program, with leaders from the partner agencies, elected officials, and representatives from outside of government invited to speak and offer their perspectives on the program.  The Corps will also formally recognize the partner agencies’ contributions to the EMP at the dockside event.  Gretchen Benjamin explained that the dockside ceremony will then be followed by a cruise aboard the Island Girl.  The cruise, which will be by invitation, will take participants to lower Pool 8 to view habitat projects as well as an LTRMP monitoring demonstration.  Hubbell encouraged EMP-CC members to provide him with the names of any individuals they want to make certain receive an invitation to the cruise. 

 

In response to a question from Mark Beorkrem, Barb Naramore explained that the August 23rd celebration will be publicized to the media.  In addition, there will be an effort to inform the general public about the dockside program.  Beorkrem asked whether the Corps intends to highlight the EMP’s anniversary as part of the mv Mississippi low water inspection trip.  Hubbell said each district is working with its states to do something as part of the up-bound trip.  In addition, Corps staff are working to determine what can be done in conjunction with the down-bound leg.  Beorkrem suggested holding celebrations off the boat so that media could attend.

 

Hubbell said a large part of the EMP’s $25,000 public involvement budget for FY 06 will be made available for anniversary-related purposes.  Hubbell encouraged comments on the anniversary plans.

 

Other Business

 

Barb Naramore announced that the next EMP-CC meeting will be held on August 23, 2006 in La Crosse, and will be preceded by a NECC/ECC meeting on the 22nd and followed by a UMRBA meeting on the 24th.  The subsequent two quarterly meeting series will be held November 14-16, 2006 in St. Paul and February 20-22, 2007 in St. Louis.  The EMP-CC will meet on the final day of the November and February meeting series — i.e., November 16 and February 22.

 

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.


EMP-CC Attendance List

May 17, 2006

 

EMP-CC Members

 

Susan Smith

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVD

Charlie Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3

Mike Jawson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Al Fenedick

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

Rick Mollahan

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Martin Konrad

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Rebecca Wooden

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Janet Sternburg

Missouri Department of Conservation

Gretchen Benjamin

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

 

Others in Attendance

 

Rich Worthington

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, HQ

Mike Thompson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Gary Loss

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Chuck Spitzack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Roger Perk

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Marvin Hubbell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Karen Hagerty

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Sandra Brewer

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Mark Pratt

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Jeff DeZellar

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

Rick Nelson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office

Bob Clevenstine

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office

Scott Yess

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/UMRCC Coordinator

Sharonne Baylor

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Barry Johnson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

David Kennedy

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Rob Maher

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Harold Hommes

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Mike Wells

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Dru Buntin

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Tom Boland

MACTEC, St. Louis

Max Starbuck

National Corn Growers Association

Mark Beorkrem

Mississippi River Basin Alliance

William Doe

Western Illinois University

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association