Minutes of the

Upper Mississippi River Restoration

Environmental Management Program

Coordinating Committee

 

August 17, 2011

Quarterly Meeting

 

Hotel Blackhawk

Davenport, Iowa

 

 

Ken Barr of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called the meeting to order at 8:05 a.m. on August 17, 2011.  Barr chaired the meeting on behalf of Charles Barton.  Other EMP-CC representatives present were Bob Clevenstine (USFWS) attending on behalf of Charlie Wooley, Mike Jawson (USGS), Rick Mollahan (IL DNR), Diane Ford (IA DNR), Tim Schlagenhaft (MN DNR), Janet Sternburg (MO DoC), and Jim Fischer (WI DNR).  A complete list of attendees follows these minutes.

 

Minutes of the May 18, 2011 Meeting

 

In the last sentence of the fifth paragraph on page A-3 of the draft minutes, Janet Sternburg requested that the word ‘water’ be inserted between “insights regarding” and “quality efforts on the UMR.”  Rick Mollahan moved and Jim Fischer seconded a motion to approve the draft minutes of the May 18, 2011 meeting as amended.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Program Management

 

FY 11 Fiscal Update

 

Marv Hubbell reported that UMRR-EMP is on schedule to obligate over 99 percent of its FY 11 allocation by the end of the fiscal year.  This is extremely important for the program’s out-year funding, given the Administration’s increased emphasis on execution and the overall budget climate.  Hubbell acknowledged the significant efforts of District staff and partners to obligate an additional $2 million, once UMRR-EMP’s final FY 11 budget number of $21.122 million was determined in May.  While under continuing resolution authorities (CRAs) for almost the first eight months of the year, UMRR-EMP had been executing based on a $19 million budget for FY 11.

 

Hubbell reviewed UMRR-EMP’s FY 11 allocations under the $21.122 million budget, as follows:

 

·         Regional Administration – $840,000

·         LTRM – $6,400,000

·         HREPs – $13,822,000

§         Program Model Certification and Regional HREP Support - $250,000

§         MVP – $4,100,000

§         MVR – $5,432,000

§         MVS – $4,100,000

 

In response to a question from Janet Sternburg, Hubbell said he expects eight UMR models will likely be certified for use in planning Corps restoration projects in FY 12.  Hubbell clarified that UMRR-EMP will have ongoing, although relatively small, expenses related to model certification.  In particular, any new models the Corps wants to use, or major adjustments to existing certified models, will need to go through the certification process.  Ken Barr said he anticipates that the Aquatic Habitat Appraisal Guide (AHAG) and Wildlife Habitat Appraisal Guide (WHAG) will be approved for use in planning UMR restoration projects in the next six months.  He noted that certifying model modifications should be much less resource intensive than initial certification.

 

Hubbell said the LTRM component, in its second year of implementing the FY 10-14 LTRM Strategic Plan, will support base monitoring, accuracy assessment of the 2010-2011 land cover/land use dataset, and providing online access to the systemic bathymetric and LiDAR datasets.

 

FY 12 Appropriations Status

 

Hubbell reported that the President’s FY 12 budget request includes $18.15 million for UMRR-EMP.  The House has approved $16.445 million in FY 12 funding for the program.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet released its FY 12 mark-up.  UMRR-EMP’s final FY 12 allocation is unknown.  [Note:  On September 7, 2011, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $18.15 million for UMRR-EMP.  However, final action on FY 12 funding is pending.]  Hubbell noted that FY 12 will likely be a difficult year Corps-wide in terms of budget, given the current fiscal climate.  Gary Meden said UMRR-EMP is MVR’s only construction project included in the President’s FY 12 budget request. 

 

Hubbell reported that USACE will host a September 29 celebration of UMRR-EMP’s 25th anniversary and its restoration of 100,000 acres of aquatic habitat.  ASA(CW) Jo-Ellen Darcy plans to attend the event.  It will be held at Eagle Point Park in Dubuque and will include a visit to Sunfish Lake and a fish monitoring demonstration.  Tentative speakers include representatives from a variety of UMRR-EMP partners, including USACE, DOI, USGS, states, UMRBA, and TNC.  Formal invitations will be distributed once the major details are finalized.  Hubbell said the celebration’s themes will include the program’s 25 years of success, the partnership’s strength, the ecological benefits resulting from 100,000 acres of aquatic habitat restored, and the importance of the UMRS as a USACE-designated nationally significant ecosystem.  Bob Clevenstine suggested that the event also highlight the UMRR-EMP’s economic impacts, including job creation.  Barr and Scott Humrickhouse expressed support for Clevenstine’s suggestion.  Humrickhouse also suggested that USACE invite a construction contractor to speak about the local and regional economic benefits of HREPs.

 

In response to a question from Tim Schlagenhaft, Hubbell encouraged partners to send him suggestions regarding the media strategy for the event.  He said USACE does not anticipate that the celebration will attract extensive media attention, but noted that the ASA(CW) will likely do some media interviews while she is in Rock Island proceeding the celebration.  Hubbell noted that Bellevue Field Station staff will be involved in the fish demonstration.  Jim Fischer encouraged USACE staff to distribute a one-page fact sheet overviewing the event’s themes.  Partners can share this document within their agencies and beyond in communicating about the program’s benefits, especially its economic value.  Hubbell agreed, and said he will sent a fact sheet to partners shortly, similar to the UMRR-EMP’s 20th anniversary brochure.  This fact sheet will also be provided to speakers in advance of the event, so that they can emphasize these themes in their remarks. 

 

Public Involvement and Outreach

 

Hubbell said MVR’s August-September 2011 Tower Times and the 2011 spring edition of Our Mississippi newsletter each included an article on UMRR-EMP’s UMRS mapping efforts — i.e., systemic bathymetric, LiDAR, and land cover/land use coverages.  Hubbell said MVR is updating its UMRR-EMP web pages to serve as the primary portal to the program.  The new website will also includes a “water trail” of completed HREPs.  He asked that partners send him high-resolution photographs of completed habitat projects. 

 

Hubbell said Corps staff are coordinating with USGS and state staff to install signs at UMESC and the field stations to clearly convey the facilities’ connection to UMRR-EMP.  Karen Hagerty invited partners to send her feedback on the draft sign formats.  Fischer suggested that signs also be installed at public access areas, at least in trend pools, to provide users with information about UMRR-EMP’s monitoring efforts in the area.

 

Fischer said UMRR-EMP was highlighted at the June 26-29, 2011 Mississippi River Teachers’ Workshop, which WI DNR, IA DNR, and UMRCC co-sponsored.

 

Hubbell said a four-page brochure summarizing highlights from the 2010 UMRR-EMP Report to Congress (RTC) is now available for distribution.  In response to a question from Janet Sternburg, Hubbell said Corps Headquarters (HQ) has furnished comments on the 2010 RTC.  The comments will not require modifications to the printed report.  Hubbell said ASA(CW) Jo-Ellen Darcy has not yet transmitted the RTC to Congress.

 

Long Term Resource Monitoring Program

 

Product Highlights

 

Mike Jawson reported that UMESC staff completed a framework for LTRM’s focused research about the UMR landscape patterns.  The framework defines a suite of quantitative measures that can be used to 1) track status and trends of landscape patterns that affect various ecological processes, 2) identify areas for restoration on a systemic scale, and 3) increase the understanding of potential ecological effects from modifications in landscape patterns resulting from ecosystem restoration and climate change.

 

Jon Hubbert asked if the landscape research framework includes any plans to assess relationships between the river and uplands.  Jawson said the framework is focused only within the floodplain because UMRR-EMP’s authorization does not extend into the basin.  In response to a question from Jim Fischer, Jawson said the landscape component specialist position is still working under a temporary contract with UMESC.  Marv Hubbell said USACE staff are exploring options to award a new contract to UMESC that would fund the position for three years.  Fischer encouraged USACE and USGS staff to continue funding the position, noting that the research is valuable and has shown great potential for increasing knowledge about the UMRS landscape.  Jawson said top-level USGS approval is currently required for any permanent hires, even those that are externally funded.

 

Janet Sternburg asked about LTRM’s plans for future research under the landscape component.  Jawson said that USGS staff plan to highlight the landscape research results at the upcoming LTRM staff meeting, and discuss how the results should inform future research efforts.  Barry Johnson also noted that the LTRM Science Management Plan will outline future research goals for LTRM’s landscape component.  In response to a request from Sternburg, Johnson said he will distribute a draft LTRM Science Management Plan in advance of the LTRM staff meeting. 

 

Jawson said LTRM staff published three manuscripts in the third quarter on the following subjects:

 

1.   Temporal changes in spatial patterns of submerged macrophytes in two impounded reaches of the UMR

 

In response to a question from Tim Schlagenhaft, Barry Johnson said the effects of islands and water level management on vegetation were not examined separately.   But UMESC staff are proposing to study the individual effects of island creation and water level management in future research.

 

2.   Spatial scaling of core and dominant forest cover in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River floodplains

 

3.   Evaluation of the rake sampling method to quantify submersed vegetation in the UMR

 

Marv Hubbell asked if certain species are routinely missed using the rake sampling method.  Jawson said this method does not collect all vegetation present each time.  But compared to other sampling methods, on average, the rake sampling method does improve the ability to detect the overall species composition and abundance of vegetation present.

 

Jawson said UMESC staff has assisted large river scientists from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection this summer in developing the Department’s sampling protocols and designs.  UMESC staff also continue to work with Chinese scientists on their large river monitoring programs, coordinated and funded by the TNC’s Great Rivers Program.  He said this collaboration will benefit partners in the long term, when the monitoring data from other large river systems can be analyzed with LTRM’s UMR data.

 

Janet Sternburg expressed appreciation for the one-page summaries of manuscripts.  She said the summaries are very helpful in communicating highlights of new research.  Jawson said UMESC staff hope to prepare hardcopy summaries for distribution at EMP-CC quarterly meetings.  These summaries include a statement of the issue and describe the issue’s importance, research findings, and implications for future research and management efforts on the UMR.

 

Jawson reported that the Open Rivers and Wetlands Field Station captured a triploid Black carp.  The fish’s otoliths will undergo microchemistry analysis to determine its origin.

 

FY 11 LTRM Scope of Work

 

Hubbell said LTRM’s total FY 11 allocation is $6.4 million.  About $4.96 million is slated for base monitoring and $1.44 million for focused research proposals, previously known as additional program elements (APEs).  Karen Hagerty briefly overviewed those proposals.  She said Tier 1 processing (i.e., serving basic LiDAR products quickly) is being postponed until there is enough data.  In the mean time, work will commence on Tier 2 and 3, which will produce LiDAR products with enhanced quality, including extensive error correction and contour smoothing.

 

In response to a question from Tim Schlagenhaft, Hubbell clarified that USACE is developing a $508,000 multi-year contract to fund the landscape ecologist position in FY 13-15.   This funding includes salary, benefits, overhead, travel, etc.  Fischer asked if similar multi-year contracts can be used to fund the field stations.  Hubbell said field stations’ work is an ongoing, annual expenditure, and therefore should be funded on an annual basis.  In contrast, the landscape ecologist’s scope of work is very specific and well defined over a certain amount of time.

 

FY 12 Work Plan Development

 

Hubbell explained that USACE and USGS staff met on June 1-2, 2011 to discuss LTRM’s FY 12 SOW, including coordination with field station staff and how to structure the annual SOWs so that they directly reflect the FY 10-14 LTRM Strategic Plan.  Hubbell said that, in late fall or early winter, USACE and USGS staff plan to convene a two-day meeting with field station and component staff to discuss priority efforts and the time required to collect and serve base monitoring data.  Additional topics will include ways to enhance program identification and several administrative issues.  Hubbell recognized that LTRM is producing valuable outputs, including collaboration on external research efforts, that need to be accounted for in the annual LTRM SOW and communicated with the program’s stakeholders.  He said documenting these additional efforts will create a more comprehensive picture of LTRM’s contributions to providing critical information to a variety of stakeholders.  Hubbell said the goal is to start implementing necessary changes in the SOW process in FY 12.

 

In response to a question from Barb Naramore, Hubbell said the plans for USACE and USGS LTRM management staff to meet individually with the field stations have been replaced by the fall/winter LTRM meeting for all program participants.  However, he anticipates holding more routine meetings with field station staff to enhance communication.  Jawson added that USACE and USGS LTRM managers will hold field station meetings following the program-wide meeting.  Hubbell said the larger group approach should enhance consistency in field stations’ work plans and expectations and help build program identity.

 

In response to a question from Naramore, Hubbell explained that USACE and USGS staff are currently reviewing the time and costs required to implement base monitoring.  These estimates will be used to inform LTRM’s FY 12 SOW.

 

Hagerty emphasized the importance of all field station staff attending the LTRM meeting.  She said it may be possible to reimburse state employees for meeting travel expenses.  Sternburg and Scott Humrickhouse said this would be helpful, but noted that it is difficult for state staff to receive travel approval regardless of funding source.

 

Hubbell asked partners to provide him with any input on the LTRM meeting.

 

Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Projects

 

District Reports

 

Hubbell highlighted the efforts of all partners to obligate almost all of UMRR-EMP’s FY 11 allocation, including overcoming several extenuating circumstances affecting HREP planning and construction in FY 11.  He said prolonged high water delayed construction and substantially shorted the construction season.  January 2010 implementation guidance detailing new USACE project review requirements added substantially to project planning and approval timelines.  Further, UMRR-EMP’s budget was uncertain well into the fiscal year.  In May, MVR staff received notice that UMRR-EMP would receive $21.122 million for FY 11, about $2 million more than the presumed total for the year during the continuing resolution authority (CRA) period.  Hubbell applauded the efforts of all partners in executing the FY 11 funds and completing construction on three HREPs that were among USACE’s 15 FY 11 national high performing projects.  These projects were Pool 8 Islands in MVP, and Lake Odessa in MVR, and Calhoun Point in MVS.  USACE will feature the performance of these projects, giving them greater attention and visibility.  Hubbell stressed that partners’ achievements in FY 11 have significant short- and long-term value to the program.

 

Tom Novak reported that MVP is finalizing construction on Pool 8 Islands Phase III and plans to host a dedication for the project next year.  The District’s next construction priorities will include a suite of projects located in Pool 9, specifically Capoli Slough, Conway Lake, Lake Winneshiek, and Harpers Slough.  Novak reported that MVP anticipates awarding a construction contract for Capoli Slough in September and completing design work on the other three Pool 9 projects in FY 12.  He said MVP also plans to distribute four draft project completion reports to partners for review within the next month.

 

Brian Markert reported that MVS has awarded a construction contract for Ted Shanks.  He expressed appreciation to Bob Clevenstine and Janet Sternburg for their efforts in advancing the project.  Markert explained that high water levels have plagued construction efforts in MVS the past few years, including this summer.  But the District is still finalizing construction on several projects this year.  MVS anticipates distributing a draft operation and maintenance manual for Calhoun Point to partners for review soon.

 

Hubbell said MVR’s FY 12 planning efforts will focus on Pool 12 Overwintering and Huron Island.  The District will likely initiate construction on Fox Island this fall. 

 

Sternburg recalled that, at the August 16, 2011 UMRBA quarterly meeting, USACE reported that any unobligated funds at the end of FY 11 will be redirected to flood recovery efforts.  She asked if this could affect UMRR-EMP.  Hubbell said that any unobligated funds by September 30 may be reprogrammed.  However, all of UMRR-EMP’s unobligated funds are included on USACE’s purchase request and commitment (PR&C) list.  [Note:  The PR&C list is a database of all future expenditures.  USACE staff must enter detailed information about future expenses in USACE’s PR&C database before entering into any contracts.]  Hubbell said he fully anticipates that all UMRR-EMP funds will be obligated by the end of August. 

 

In response to a question from Sternburg, Hubbell said partners can contact Monique Savage to get copies of past HREP O&M manuals.

 

District Commander’s Comments

 

COL Shawn McGinley emphasized the importance of obligations and expenditures for all USACE projects and programs, especially in the current fiscal climate.  USACE’s future budget numbers and priorities are unclear.  MVD has not yet received USACE Headquarters (HQ) guidance regarding FY 12 funding.  He added that the Senate has delayed its confirmation of President Obama’s nomination of LTG Thomas Bostick to be Chief of Engineers for USACE.

 

COL McGinley noted that, in the face of increased budget constraints, USACE leadership has increased its emphasis on capital asset management, including locks and dams and hydropower facilities, etc., as well as improving the nation’s overall water infrastructure. 

 

COL McGinley said ASA(CW) Jo-Ellen Darcy plans to participate in the September 29 UMRR-EMP celebration.  He said Darcy is very interested in all three UMR District’s activities related to UMRR-EMP and is generally supportive of the Corps’ environmental efforts.  Darcy’s visit to MVR will also include an American Great Outdoors event.

 

COL McGinley said he had an opportunity to visit the Bellevue Field Station in January 2011.  He is planning a return visit to the field station in the near future to observe electrofishing or other sampling effort.  COL McGinley said he is fully supportive of UMRR-EMP field stations’ monitoring and research efforts. 

 

Barb Naramore expressed appreciations for the Corps’ tremendous efforts in achieving a nearly 99 percent obligation rate in FY 11, especially considering the extenuating circumstances.  COL McGinley and Hubbell said the Corps greatly appreciates the efforts of Illinois to advance the Rice Lake project agreement and the contributions of all partners to UMRR-EMP’s FY 11 success.

 

Regional Review Plan Update

 

Hubbell reported that MVD will likely submit a UMRR-EMP Regional Review Plan to Corps HQ soon.  The Plan identifies ways to guide and streamline HREP reviews, while complying with the Corps’ January 2010 project review guidance.  In response to a request from Naramore, Roger Perk said Corps staff will distribute the draft Plan to the EMP-CC distribution list.

 

Implementation Issues Assessment

 

Marv Hubbell said UMRR-EMP partners are currently exploring a variety of policy and program issues that partners agreed to address in the Implementation Issues Assessment (IIA), which is a companion effort to UMRR-EMP’s 2010 Report to Congress.  The IIA will make recommendations to the Administration, USACE, and/or partners on how to resolve the issues.  As part of the IIA process, several individuals are drafting issue papers to guide partners’ consideration of the issues and inform the ultimate IIA document.  Each paper will include an issue statement, current status, background, options (for addressing the issue), and data needs.  The authors will present draft issue papers to the EMP-CC, which will recommend option(s) to pursue in addressing each issue.

 

Hubbell added that a follow-on strategic plan for the HREP component will address some of the HREP-specific issues in greater detail — e.g., adaptive management and HREP operation and maintenance.  The HREP Strategic Plan will likely be initiated in 2012.

 

NGOs as Cost Share Sponsors

 

Marshall Plumley said Section 2003 of WRDA 2007 amended the 1970 Flood Control Act to redefine non-federal interests to include nonprofit entities, with the consent of the affected local government.  Plumley said USACE Headquarters is not expected to issue implementation guidance related to this provision.  Rather, he said the individual project delivery teams (PDTs) are responsible for evaluating whether a candidate NGO is capable of meeting the requirements for a non-federal project sponsor — i.e., provide the required construction cost share and then operate, maintain, repair, replace, and rehabilitate the project, or functional portion of the project, using non-federal funds, throughout the project’s 50-year life span.  According to Plumley, it will be easier for PDTs to make determinations about whether a NGO has the capabilities to cost share if that NGO already has an established memorandum of understanding (MOU) with USACE.

 

Tim Schlagenhaft asked whether multiple NGOs could cost share on an individual project.  Plumley said USACE prefers to enter into cost share agreements with a single entity.  Plumley said he will address whether that is a USACE policy or simply a preferred approach in the issue paper, and will identify possible options to allow multiple NGOs to partner with USACE on a habitat project.  Schlagenhaft suggested that various NGOs be invited to a future EMP-CC meeting to discuss cost sharing opportunities and any priorities they may have regarding specific project types or locations.  Plumley and Hubbell said they hope to extend such invitations for the November 16, 2011 EMP-CC meeting.

 

Land Acquisition

 

Plumley reviewed the Corps’ 1994 policy memo that clarified UMRR-EMP’s ability to acquire lands and easements for habitat projects.  Some of those requirements include:

 

·         Real estate interests, be they fee title or easements, are purchased primarily for fish and wildlife preservation, enhancement, or restoration purposes

·         The land acquisition component has a non-federal sponsor to acquire the land, fulfill the construction cost sharing requirements, and assume full responsibility for all operation and maintenance of the restoration project

·         The non-federal sponsor is responsible for 35 percent of the total project costs, including land acquisition

·         Any land acquired must include active construction and/or operation and maintenance measures to improve the value of the fish and wildlife habitat over its value in its current condition

 

Plumley said Edward Dickey’s 1994 policy memo includes some limits regarding acreage, cost, or UMRR-EMP’s annual investment for land acquisition, but those have expired.  In response to a question from Janet Sternburg, Plumley said an NGO can cost share a land acquisition project, as long as it is able to meet all of the cost share and land acquisition requirements.  Tim Schlagenhaft asked if USACE has established a ceiling on the cost of land acquisition relative to the total project cost.  Plumley said that land acquisition costs generally should not exceed 25 percent of the total project cost, but USACE Headquarters can waive that limit.

 

Roger Perk and Hubbell suggested that the issue paper address the Corps’ policy for reimbursing non-federal sponsors if the value of lands, easements, rights-of-way, relocation, and dredged material disposal areas (LERRDs) exceeds the sponsor’s 35 percent share of total project costs.   Hubbell noted that Illinois has recently raised the issue of whether it can legally waive its right to reimbursement for excess LERRDs in the project partnership agreement (PPA).  Historically, states have always been silent on the issue in their PPAs, and have waived the policy after signing the agreement.

 

In response to a question from Janet Sternburg, Plumley said USACE is evaluating which types of easements are acceptable for restoration projects.  He said the Corps prefers that lands are owned or in a permanent easement, and that the Corps is much less likely to pursue a project on lands with a short-term easement.

 

Barb Naramore explained that many of today’s issues concerning land acquisition have lingered since partners developed the 2004 Land Acquisition issue paper, primarily as a result of the issue’s complexity and the fact that UMRR-EMP has not yet tested the boundaries of land acquisition policy through many specific projects. Both factors have led to various interpretations of the land acquisition policy by Corps staff and partners.  Naramore suggested that this issue paper clarify the policy and identify a communications strategy to achieve a consistent understanding among the partnership.  In addition, she suggested that the paper identify whether pursuing land acquisition as an element of habitat projects is a priority for the partnership.

 

Maintaining and Enhancing State Participation and Support

 

Jim Fischer overviewed the main themes of the draft Maintaining and Enhancing State Participation and Support issue paper, which he and Olivia Dorothy from the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s Office co-authored.  Fischer said the state EMP-CC members are still providing input on the August 8 draft.

 

Fischer explained that the EMP-CC agreed to explore opportunities to facilitate states’ participation in UMRR-EMP as they face diminishing fiscal and staff resources and increasing demands.  Using Wisconsin DNR as an example, Fischer cited the agency’s increasing number of retirements and unfilled vacancies.  This has lead to staff having many various responsibilities rather than specific disciplines and regional focuses.  In addition, the agency’s resources are being concentrated more on internal matters and less on interstate, regional issues and programs.  Fischer said the strength of UMRR-EMP’s partnership and importance has kept Wisconsin DNR actively engaged.  However, at the same time, UMRR-EMP’s strength and maturity may lead state partners to transition their attention from UMRR-EMP matters to other, more pressing needs.  Fischer said that, at the May 18, 2011 IIA Authors’ Forum, participants agreed to expand this issue paper to also explore opportunities for enhancing engagement by the state agencies’ upper level leadership.

 

Janet Sternburg said she supports the draft paper’s Option 1A), which suggests that partners evaluate the current HREP planning, design, review, approval, and permitting processes to identify potential efficiencies – e.g., combining various river team functions.  However, she cautioned that it will be important to fully consider each team’s unique composition and interests.  Sternburg also expressed support for Option 1C), and suggested that UMRR-EMP partners increase their use of webinars in place of in-person meetings as a way of reducing travel costs.  Fischer mentioned that the FY 10-14 LTRM Strategic and Operation Plan includes enhancing HREP-LTRMP integration as a top priority.  He said integrating these two components may help to increase efficiencies.  Ken Barr noted that program efficiencies can also be gained by employing integrated water management techniques. 

 

Tim Schlagenhaft encouraged UMRR-EMP’s federal partners to communicate directly to state agency leaders about the river’s needs and requests for state involvement in their efforts on the UMR.  This would also promote engagement between EMP-CC state members and their respective agency leaders about the UMR.  Scott Humrickhouse agreed with Schlagenhaft, and added that federal communications to the states would enhance the UMR’s visibility and understanding of the states’ efforts on the river among state agency leaders.  Janet Sternburg suggested that USACE include UMRR-EMP as a regular agenda item when its District Commanders meet with the states.

 

Kirk Hansen expressed reservations with the example provided in Option 1C) (i.e., to reimburse states for UMRR-EMP-related time and travel, planning, and scientific coordination efforts) because such reimbursement would reduce the amount available for other UMRR-EMP priorities.  Fischer said he understands the concern, but noted that such reimbursement would lessen the states’ constraints on out-of-state travel.  In response to a question from Hubbell, Fischer said travel reimbursement to the states could be provided for both programmatic and project-specific meetings.  Tim Schlagenhaft recalled that travel reimbursement was offered to the state members of the FY 10-14 LTRMP Strategic and Operational Planning Team.  He said the funding was critical in allowing those state members to participate. 

 

Jon Hubbert asked if there are opportunities to use video conferencing for some meetings.  Barr said UMR partners have been increasing their use of webinars as meeting forums.  Colonel McGinley noted that USACE will continue to increase its use of webinars as an alternative to in-person meetings in an effort to reduce travel expenses.  Sternburg said web-based meetings also free–up travel time, allowing staff to allocate that time to other work priorities.

 

Fischer shared Iowa DNR’s comment regarding Option 1D), which suggests modifying UMRR-EMP’s cost share policies to account for various in-kind contributions.  Iowa’s comment acknowledges that states’ in-kind contributions for project planning are credited for work that is done after a project’s partnership agreement is signed.  Prior work is not credited.  Hubbell said this is accurate for the sponsor of cost-shared projects, but noted that there is no credit for in-kind contributions to non-cost shared projects.  For example, Iowa DNR’s monitoring efforts for Sunfish and Mud Lakes are not credited because the projects are 100 percent federally funded.

 

In response to a question from Roger Perk about the issue paper’s next steps, Hubbell said partners should send any comments on the paper to Fischer by September 30.  Barb Naramore added that the EMP-CC meeting minutes and issue paper summary will include documentation of partners’ deliberation on each issue and the options considered.

 

LTRM Implementation

 

Karen Hagerty said the draft LTRM Implementation issue paper includes options for increasing LTRM’s resources (Option A) and addressing LTRM implementation in low funding scenarios (i.e., below base monitoring expenses) (Option B).  Opportunities to increase LTRM’s resources may include:

 

1.       Increase UMRR-EMP’s annual funding

2.       Raise additional in-kind contributions from UMRR-EMP partners

3.       Leverage funds from external sources

 

Hagerty said Iowa DNR’s collection of LiDAR data in Pools 8-24 and processing of LiDAR data for the entire UMRS is a great example of in-kind contributions to the program.  She said this contribution has been extremely valuable to UMRR-EMP, allowing the program to accelerate creation of the systemic LiDAR coverage while reducing costs.  Hagerty also noted that the LTRM Science Plan, which UMESC staff are currently developing, will help guide future efforts to leverage resources from partners and external stakeholders, including universities that are doing research on the UMR. 

 

Tim Schlagenhaft expressed support for the options identified to increase LTRM’s resources.  He suggested that UMRR-EMP develop a more formal and explicit process for identifying opportunities to pursue partnerships with external stakeholders.  Schlagenhaft said this strategy should articulate partners’ responsibilities for soliciting and working with external stakeholders, as well as identify those potential stakeholders (e.g., universities, museums, and corporations) and provide some communication materials that would showcase LTRM’s monitoring and research priorities.  Hagerty mentioned that USACE and USGS staff have communicated informally with some universities about coordinating on research efforts. 

 

Sternburg echoed support for leveraging resources from other UMR monitoring and research efforts.  Hagerty mentioned that USEPA’s UMR Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) indices are being used to gain a broader understanding of the river. 

 

Hubbell suggested addressing UMRR-EMP’s annual funding separately, noting that the implications would be program-wide.  Schlagenhaft agreed with Hubbell’s suggestion. 

 

Schlagenhaft noted that Table 1 of the draft issue paper shows that UMRR-EMP may not be able to cover base monitoring costs as early as FY 12.  He stressed the importance of fully supporting base monitoring efforts and expressed support for Option B, which suggests developing a coordinated strategy for maintaining LTRM’s base monitoring capabilities.

 

Hagerty explained that Option B includes 1) developing a contingency plan for implementing LTRM in low funding years (i.e., years when funding is below base monitoring costs) and 2) forming an ad hoc team to examine a draft scope of work for LTRM when it appears that it will face low funding in the upcoming fiscal year.  Sternburg said the EMP-CC needs to initiate low funding scenario discussions immediately, observing that it is too late to start planning when the number is actually known.  She emphasized the need to gather information and fully evaluate alternatives. 

 

Hubbell requested that partners send comments on the draft issue paper to Hagerty by September 30.

 

Mike Jawson suggested that the EMP-CC form an ad hoc group to consider LTRM implementation in low funding years, including possibly in FY 12.  Diane Ford said the FY 10-14 LTRMP Strategic Plan should guide future efforts to address LTRM funding.  In response to a question from Hubbell about the group’s composition, Schlagenhaft said the group should involve representation from LTRM technical staff, including component specialists and field station staff.  He recalled that it was extremely challenging for the EMP-CC to plan for LTRM’s implementation in FY 04-05, when LTRM was funded below base monitoring costs.  The issues were very sensitive and the EMP-CC was under significant time constraints to make tough decisions.  Schlagenhaft urged the EMP-CC to also explore options for increasing LTRM resources from external sources.  Hubbell suggested that the group reference the FY 04-05 LTRM work plans to see how the partnership addressed LTRM implementation in those low funding years.  Jawson said USACE and USGS staff should provide the EMP-CC with various options for making cuts to the base monitoring program. 

 

Ken Barr suggested convening the ad hoc group prior to the November 2011 EMP-CC meeting.  Hubbell said that in all likelihood the issue of LTRM funding is not immediate at this time.  He said there are a number of options for addressing LTRM funding in FY 12.  But he recognized that LTRM’s ability to fully fund base monitoring and pursue other research initiatives is a long term problem that the EMP-CC needs to address.

 

Other Business

 

The upcoming quarterly meetings are as follows:

 

§         November 2011 — Moline

o        UMRBA — November 15

o        EMP-CC — November 16 (all day)

 

§         February 2012 — Quad Cities

o        UMRBA — February 28

o        EMP-CC — February 29

o        Possible IIA meeting — February 29

 

§         May 2012 — St. Louis

o        UMRBA — May 22

o        EMP-CC — May 23

o        Possible IIA meeting — May 23

 

[Note:  Any future NECC and joint EMP-CC/NECC meetings are contingent on NESP funding.  USACE staff will continue to communicate to partners about NESP’s funding and other programmatic announcements through the NECC distribution list.  If NESP receives FY 12 funding, the schedule above will likely be revised to permit EMP-CC, NECC, and any joint sessions to be held on the same day (i.e., February 29, 2012 and May 23, 2012).  This would push the possible IIA meetings to the following day.]

 

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 12:00 noon.

 


EMP-CC Attendance List

August 17, 2011

 

EMP-CC Members

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Bob Clevenstine

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Mike Jawson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Rick Mollahan

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Diane Ford

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Tim Schlagenhaft

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Janet Sternburg

Missouri Department of Conservation

Jim Fischer

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

 

Others In Attendance

Tom Novak

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

David Potter

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

COL Shawn McGinley

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Gary Meden

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

Darron Niles

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Marshall Plumley

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Steve Rumple

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Chuck Theiling

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Brian Markert

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Donovan Henry

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Jon Hubbert

U.S. Department of Agriculture, NRCS

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Amber Andress

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Bob Buchmiller

U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa Water Science Center

Barry Johnson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Kirk Hansen

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Craig O’Riley

Iowa Department of Transportation

Robert Stout

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Scott Humrickhouse

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Tom Boland

MACTEC

Brad Walker

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Cecily Smith

Prairie Rivers Network

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Kirsten Mickelsen

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association