EMP Report to Congress Workshop

November 21, 2002

 

Summary of Outcomes

 

 

 

Summary of August 8, 2002 Workshop

 

Workshop participants suggested no changes to the summary of the August 8, 2002 Report to Congress workshop.

 

 

Issue Paper:  Role of Applied Research

 

·      The RTC should not make any specific recommendations regarding the role of applied research in the LTRMP.  Thus, none of the specific options identified in the issue paper will be pursued as part of the RTC.

 

·      However, the RTC should address applied research as follows:

-      Acknowledge the importance of all three major LTRMP components (i.e., applied research, monitoring, and evaluation of management alternatives).

-      Emphasize the LTRMP’s accomplishments and contributions to the Navigation Study and other important river management activities.

-      Stress the need for adequate LTRMP resources, and the importance of flexibility in allocating those resources among the three components.

-      Describe the partners’ commitment to reviewing the critical science questions that the LTRMP is being asked to address, relating those questions to discrete tasks, and prioritizing the questions and tasks (i.e., the science planning process).

 

 

Issue Paper:  Coordination between LTRMP and Other Programs

 

·      Workshop participants generally agreed that the LTRMP can and does make valuable contributions to other programs.  However, given its original purpose and design, there are limits to its applicability.  The potential to leverage additional resources through closer coordination with other programs was acknowledged.  However, several partners cautioned that LTRMP may lose its primary focus and value if it is asked to serve too many needs.

 

·      The following options were eliminated from further consideration:

-      Option 3 — expand and/or modify the LTRMP to meeting other information needs within existing EMP authority and authorized funding levels.

-      Option 4 — amend EMP legislation to specifically define the scientific and/or programmatic scope of the LTRMP.

 

·      The following options were retained for further consideration at the February 2003 RTC workshop:

-      Option 1 — status quo—continue to implement LTRMP as provided in its guiding documents, taking advantage of opportunities to coordinate with other science and management programs as they arise

-      Option 2 — undertake an INA to identify the full range of river-related environmental data and research needs; limitations of LTRMP as currently structured to meet those needs; current and potential LTRMP partners or clients; and scientific, budgetary, or policy issues associated with expanding /modifying the program.

 

·      Several questions were raised regarding the scope and estimated cost of the Information Needs Assessment (INA) that was proposed following the 1997 RTC, as well as the science planning process currently being initiated by USGS.

 

·      Prior to the February workshop, participants will be provided with background information concerning the original INA proposal and USGS’s science planning process.

 

 

Issue Paper:  Funding Stability for the LTRMP

 

·      UMESC and the state field stations are devoting a major portion of their FY 03 staff time to reviewing existing data and assessing options for restructuring the LTRMP to enhance its effectiveness and flexibility.  Given this on-going effort, further consideration of the funding stability issue in the context of the RTC should be deferred.  The issue will not be adddressed in the RTC unless the LTRMP analysis effort suggests specific measures to enhance funding stability that require administrative or Congressional action. 

 

·      In the interim, workshop participants offered several observations regarding the funding stability issue:

-      Funding instability has negative effects on the HREP program as well as the LTRMP.

-      Low funding levels, and funding fluctuations, are interfering with the LTRMP’s ability to meet its stated goals.

-      Funding instability can be an issue not only when funding declines, but also when it increases.

-      If funding stability is ultimately addressed in the RTC, it should not be done simply as a plea for increased funding.  Rather, the partnership would need to propose a way of dealing with the inevitable funding fluctuations more effectively.

 

 

Issue Paper:  Operation and Maintenance

 

·      The Navigation Study will be addressing big picture O&M issues with implications beyond just the EMP.  These include the Corps’ role in operating and maintaining the river ecosystem, including specific projects designed to promote ecosystem sustainability.  Another such issue is the potential cumulative O&M burden on the states and other sponsors as they are asked to participate in a wider range of projects.  The EMP RTC should not attempt to speak to these broader issues.

 

·      The RTC should address the Fish and Wildlife Service’s need for increased resources to O&M HREPs on its refuges — i.e., Option 3 in the issue paper.  Specific considerations include the following:

-      While the Service has made some progress through its Refuge Operations Needs System (RONS) process in recent years, existing projects and those in the pipeline will place significant pressure on both the Service's operation and maintenance budgets.

-      The RTC needs to make the case persuasively that the Service is an essential player in the EMP’s success and that the EMP is critical to the federal government’s mission on the UMR.  Otherwise, the response could simply be that the program should stop building projects on refuge lands if the Service can’t O&M them.

-      Consideration of whether the RTC should recommend cross-cut budgeting as one means of addressing the Service’s O&M needs was deferred.  Issues include whether a report to Congress needs to go into detail regarding how the Administration accomplishes its budget coordination and the likelihood that bigger picture questions regarding cross-cut budgeting will be addressed in the Navigation Study.

-      In order to effectively make the case for the Service’s O&M needs, the data needs identified in the issue paper must be answered.  Workshop participants agreed that data should be gathered for both refuge and non-refuge projects.  Data will be collected for both existing projects and those for which a DPR has been developed.  The Corps, Service, and states will all need to contribute data.  The Corps will take the lead for compiling the information.

 

 

Issue Paper:  Cost-Sharing

 

·      The environmental component of the Navigation Study will address cost-sharing for a variety of UMR environmental activities under different Corps authorities, including mitigation, as well as restoration and enhancement authorities such as the EMP.  Thus, there will need to be a close connection between what is recommended in the EMP RTC and the Navigation Study regarding cost-sharing.

 

·      Options 1-3 [maintain, reduce, or eliminate current cost-sharing] were not discussed and will not be pursued in the EMP RTC.

 

·      Option 4 [use T&E benefits or “national benefits” under Section 906(e)(1) to justify more projects as 100 percent federal] was eliminated from further consideration.  It was believed that such an approach would necessitate elaborate new guidelines and additional project review.

 

·      The RTC should advance Option 5 [expand definition of 100 percent federal projects to include those on all federally managed and owned lands, not just national refuges].  Specific considerations and observations included:

-      The amount of federal lands on the UMRS in each state should be identified to provide context for the recommendation.  It may be possible to advance an equity rationale for the recommendation — i.e., expanding the definition of 100 percent federal projects would offset the current geographic imbalance in the distribution of refuge lands.

-      The RTC should explain the states’ willingness and ability to cost-share on lands that they own, but their limitations regarding cost sharing on federal lands.

-      The Corps may not ultimately be able to support Option 5.  It will need to be discussed with Headquarters in the broader context of the Navigation Study.

-      Missouri may still want to independently pursue a recommendation that EMP projects on all public lands be 100 percent federal.

 

 

Issue Paper: HREP Planning and Prioritization

 

·      None of the specific options outlined in the Issue Paper was endorsed by workshop participants as a recommendation to be included in the RTC.  However, it was acknowledged that the legislation requires that the RTC describe the HNA.  Furthermore, the RTC should address concerns about the prioritization and selection process that have been expressed by stakeholders in the past.  Therefore, it was agreed that the RTC should report on the status and use of the HNA and describe the HREP planning and prioritization process that was developed subsequent to the last RTC. 

 

·      Other observations and comments regarding this issue included:

-      The EMP-CC already approved a May 2000 framework describing the HREP prioritization process.  However, some of the details regarding use of the HNA and other issues still need to be worked out, as evidenced by MVR’s trial application of the process last year.  Prior to the RTC, the Corps will complete the HREP guidance document, based on the May 2000 framework.

-      Option 3 [accelerate pool planning] is already being done as part of the Navigation Study.

-      Option 4 [request that the Independent Technical Review Committee make recommendations regarding the HREP planning and prioritization process] may be an option in the future.  However, the ITRC has not yet been formed.

 

 

Theme: Environmental Success

 

·      Workshop participants endorsed the theme of the EMP as an “environmental success story,” noting that this is a very important message for both OMB and Congress.

 

·      Because “success” often has the connotation of final achievement or completion, the RTC must also emphasize that the story is not yet ended; more remains to be done.

 

·      The Corps is already pursuing the information needs identified in the theme paper.  However, additional information will be needed from the states and other EMP partners to document the program’s accomplishments and successes.

 

 

Theme: Part of an Integrated Solution

 

·      Workshop participants agreed that the RTC should carry forward the theme of the EMP as part of an integrated approach to meeting the UMR’s ecosystem needs.  Specific points included:

-      This theme is related to the issue of coordination between LTRMP and other programs, previously discussed at the workshop — i.e., there are many needs on the UMR and the EMP cannot be expected to meet them all.  But there are opportunities to enhance the linkages between EMP and other programs.

-      This theme is particularly relevant and important given the anticipated package of integrated recommendations that will be coming out of the Navigation Study.

 

 


November 21, 2002

RTC Workshop Attendees

 

 

Corps of Engineers

Rich Worthington (HQ)

Steve Cobb (MVD)

Greg Ruff (MVD)

Roger Perk (MVR)

Don Powell (MVP)

Mark Cornish (MVR)

Mike Thompson (MVS)

Brian Markert (MVS)

Gary Lee (MVS)

Dawayne Sanders (MVS)

 

Fish and Wildlife Service

Tim Yager (Region 3)

Don Hultman (UMR Refuge)

 

U.S. Geological Survey

Ken Lubinski (UMESC)

 

States

Scott Stuewe (IL DNR)

Kevin Szcodronski (IA DNR)

Amy Denz (MN DNR)

Gary Christoff (MO DOC)

Mike Wells (MO DNR)

Terry Moe (WI DNR)

Jeff Janvrin (WI DNR)

 

Others

Bill Franz (U.S. EPA, Region 5)

Larry Shepard (U.S. EPA, Region 7)

Bob Goodwin (MARAD)

Holly Stoerker (UMRBA)

Barb Naramore (UMRBA)