Summary of the

Upper Mississippi River System

Environmental Management Program

Program Planning Team


May 23, 2007 Meeting


Holiday Inn

Rock Island, Illinois



Marvin Hubbell of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called the meeting to order at 7:30 a.m. on May 23, 2007.Other Program Planning Team members present were Charlie Wooley (USFWS), Mike  Jawson (USGS), Martin Konrad (IA DNR), Tim Schlagenhaft (MN DNR), Janet Sternburg (MO DOC), Gretchen Benjamin (WI DNR), Don Powell (USACE) and Brian Markert (USACE). A complete list of attendees follows this summary.


PPT Operations


         The function and composition of the EMP HREP Program Planning Team (PPT), as described in the November 2003 HREP Planning and Sequencing Framework, was reviewed and agreed to.The PPTís role in the 3rd stage of a 4-stage HREP planning and sequencing process was acknowledged ó i.e., Stage I = District Ecological Evaluation, Stage II = System Ecological Evaluation, Stage III = Program Planning, and Stage IV = COE Management.


         Various questions concerning the role of the PPT and its relationship to the SET and Science Panel were raised, but no significant conclusions were drawn.


Report from the SET


         Marv Hubbell explained that the System Ecological Team (SET) has not yet completed its report and recommendations to the PPT.However, it is anticipated that the SET will make several process-related, rather than project-specific, recommendations.Those will likely include the following:

o        Enhance the consistency and content of project fact sheets from the DETs to facilitate the SETís systemic consideration of proposed projects.

o        Employ both top-down and bottom-up approaches to objective setting.

o        Modify the SETís role to engage the SET more as a technical/scientific partner in the development of habitat objectives and HREP planning documents.

o        Establish restoration objectives by 12 geomorphic reaches on the UMRS, using 7 habitat types as the basis for setting those objectives.

o        Do HREP program planning by the 4 major floodplain reaches recognized on the UMRS.

o        In setting habitat objectives for the 7 habitat types, identify biological and physical indicators of habitat quality.

o        Monitoring, adaptive management, and learning opportunities should be interactive.

o        The approach outlined above has implications for land cover/land use data needs ó i.e., there would need to be a commitment to providing the necessary level of detail at routine intervals.This would not require as many classifications as are currently employed by LTRMP, but would presumably involve more frequent updating.


         Chuck Theiling summarized the SETís efforts to-date, including the teamís attempt to employ a complex series of matrices as well as its subsequent work with an advanced modeling approach presented by the University of Minnesotaís Tony Starfield.According to Theiling, the SET concluded that the criteria matrix approach was overly complicated, required information frequently not available in the fact sheets, and failed to distinguish meaningfully among the proposed projects.He said the SET was very encouraged by the capacity of Starfieldís modeling approach to focus thinking on a manageable number of factors, allowing the group to make meaningful distinctions.


Review/Discuss SET Recommendations


         Tim Schlagenhaft expressed concern that some project types are not being considered in the DET/SET efforts to-date.He cited the Zumbro River as an example of the type of project that needs to be included in the planning and sequencing process and called for the evaluation of additional projects beyond the 18 submitted to the SET by the DETs.Hubbell said the process should not, in and of itself, preclude certain types of projects.Schlagenhaft and Gary Wege reiterated their concern that certain types of projects are not coming through the district-level process.


         Mike Griffin noted that, under almost any process, multi-purposed projects will tend to out-compete more narrowly focused HREPs.He stressed the importance of preserving the partnershipís ability to pursue smaller, more limited purpose projects when and where they are needed on the river system.


         Schlagenhaft asked for more detail regarding the SETís recommendation for a top-down approach to objective setting.Theiling clarified that the SET has not, as yet, actually tried to identify objectives.Hank DeHaan said the SET has discussed the basic framework under which this could be done.Griffin said the SET envisions that the DETs would set the habitat priorities for their reaches of the river.


         Schlagenhaft observed that setting ecological objectives continues to be a stumbling block for much of the work being done on the UMRS, whether it is under the EMP or NESP.He called on the Science Panel and SET to do more than provide a framework for river objectives, stating that these groups should identify the key river processes on which to focus river protection and restoration efforts.


         Janet Sternburg emphasized that the SETís role is to identify what is needed from an ecological perspective.She said the DETs and SET should not be screening out projects on policy grounds.According to Sternburg, if a project has strong ecological merit, it should be forwarded to the PPT, regardless of whether it presents policy challenges.It is then the PPTís role to evaluate those policy challenges and determine whether they can be addressed.Hubbell concurred, while reminding PPT members that the Corps may ultimately need to reject a very meritorious project on policy grounds in Stage IV of the process.


         Gary Wege stressed the need for a system diagnosis for the river and a disciplined approach to addressing the systemic needs.


         Barry Johnson observed that he did not see a clear top-down element in what had been presented concerning the SETís deliberations and anticipated recommendations.Johnson agreed that a top-down component would be very helpful.


         John Barko emphasized the need to be concerned with improvements in overall river health, noting that peopleís perspectives are very scale dependent.Barko expressed confidence that seeking improvements in ecological functions and processes will result in projects that will work systemically and function effectively over time.


PPT Conclusions and Recommendations


PPT members did not discuss the individual projects forwarded by the DETs and evaluated by the SET, given that the SET had not yet made any recommendations concerning specific projects.Nor, in the absence of a written report from the SET, did the PPT act upon the anticipated SET recommendations regarding process-related considerations.Instead, the PPT agreed it would reconvene at an appropriate time in the future, after the EMP-CC has had an opportunity to consider and act upon the SETís recommendations concerning changes to the November 2003 HREP Planning and Sequencing Framework.However, individual PPT members did offer a variety of observations regarding the anticipated SET recommendations.Those observations are summarized below, with the names of PPT members who explicitly expressed a particular idea indicated in parentheses:


         The SETís process seems reasonable.(Benjamin, Konrad, Wooley)


         Structured decision making is a great methodology and the Fish and Wildlife Service has used it to very good effect in areas such as its Endangered Species Act work. (Wooley)


         Generally support the idea of working with geomorphic/floodplain reaches and setting objectives by habitat classes. (Schlagenhaft, Benjamin, Sternburg, Powell)


         Like the top-down approach to identifying reach needs, then setting objectives, then planning projects.(Powell)


         Would important distinctions be lost with only seven habitat classes?(Benjamin)


         Need perspectives from the Science Panel/SET on reach objectives, appropriate tools, and limiting factors. (Schlagenhaft)


         Need the SET to take a system look at habitat needs.This hasnít happened via other means.Implementation, however, should be by reach.(Sternburg)


         Do not need Science Panel, SET, or others directing us.Field staff have important perspectives based in science and experience.What we need is for field staff and scientists to interact and communicate in setting objectives.(Benjamin)


         Not confident that what has been laid out so far will get us where we need to go. (Schlagenhaft)


         Need to continue moving forward and adapting with this HREP planning and sequencing effort.(Benjamin, Markert)


         MVS needs to initiate planning on new HREPs.The district will begin planning on Pool 24 Islands and Rip Rap Landing this year.The need to start planning new projects is not as pressing in MVP and MVR.These two districts each have 2-3 years of HREPs in the planning pipeline.Therefore, of the 18 HREPs forwarded by the DETs and considered by the SET, only Pool 24 and Rip Rap will be advanced at this time.(Markert and Hubbell)


         The November 2003 HREP Planning and Sequencing Framework emphasizes the goal of transparency.How is/will information from this process be shared with NGOs?(Sternburg)


         There has been attrition among the SET membership, and the SETís anticipated recommendations would actually increase the time commitment required of SET members.Therefore, there will likely be a need for new members, as well as increased fiscal resources.USACE will report back to the PPT on these matters.(Hubbell)

Program Planning Team Attendance List

May 23, 2007



PPT Members


Marv Hubbell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Brian Markert

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Charlie Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3

Mike Jawson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Martin Konrad

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Tim Schlagenhaft

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

Terry Smith

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVD

Tom Novak

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Jeff DeZellar

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Kevin Bluhm

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Chuck Spitzack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Karen Hagerty

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Hank DeHaan

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Chuck Theiling

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Sandra Brewer

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Gary Wege

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, TCFO

Scott Yess

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/UMRCC

Don Hultman

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Sharonne Baylor

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Dick Steinbach

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mark Twain & IL River Refuges

Karen Westphall

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

Joyce Collins

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marion ES Sub-Office

Barry Johnson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Ken Lubinski

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

Mike Griffin

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Dave Bierman

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Mike Davis

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Jim Fischer

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

John Barko

USACE, retired

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association