Minutes of

Environmental Management Program Coordinating Committee

and

Navigation Environmental Coordination Committee

Joint Session

 

August 5, 2009

 

Hotel Père Marquette

Peoria, Illinois

 

 

Rick Nelson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. on August 5, 2009.  Other EMP-CC and NECC representatives present were Elizabeth Ivy (USACE), Ken Barr (USACE), Mike Jawson (USGS), Rick Mollahan (IL DNR), Bernie Hoyer (IA DNR), Bernie Schonhoff (IA DNR), Tim Schlagenhaft (MN DNR), Janet Sternburg (MO DoC), Jim Fischer (WI DNR), and Bill Franz (USEPA).  A complete list of attendees follows these minutes.

 

Minutes from the May 20, 2009 Joint Session

 

Janet Sternburg moved and Bernie Schonoff seconded a motion to approve the draft minutes of the May 20, 2009 joint session as written.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

FY 10-14 LTRMP Strategic and Operational Plan

 

Marv Hubbell reported that, on May 20, 2009, the EMP-CC endorsed the FY 10-14 LTRMP Strategic and Operational Plan, pending minor revisions based on partner comments.  The final Plan, reflecting these revisions, was distributed to the partnership on July 7, 2009.  The Plan will be used as a blueprint for the LTRMP over the next five years, specifically to guide development of the annual scopes of work (SOWs).  Hubbell said that a subset of the FY 10-14 LTRMP Strategic Planning Team will review the annual SOWs, ensuring the Plan’s goals and priorities are fully reflected.  The group will also determine if there are any needed adjustments to the Plan.

 

Hubbell explained that this was LTRMP’s second strategic planning effort.  The first strategic plan, developed for FY 05-09, was completed in a relatively quick timeframe, in response to anticipated budget constraints.  He said that the FY 10-14 planning effort spanned a longer period of time, allowing for more partnership coordination and reflection on goals and priorities.  Hubbell noted that the planning process and end product have served, and will continue to be used, as important communication tools for the partnership.

 

Hubbell said that the FY 10-14 planning effort was coordinated with NESP Program Managers to make the Plan as cross-program compliant as possible.  He encouraged NECC members and stakeholders to review the FY 10-14 Strategic and Operational Plan.

 

Hubbell explained that the Analysis Team (A-Team) was formed to be a technical advisory group for the LTRMP.  The Strategic and Operational Plan has identified various tasks that may require additional areas of expertise and broader roles and responsibilities.  He reported that the A-Team and EMP-CC have agreed to form an ad hoc group that will examine the Team’s appropriate scope and composition.

 

Decision Support System

 

Marv Hubbell explained that the development of the Corps’ Decision Support System (DSS) has been a program-neutral effort.  The DSS will ultimately be used to support both NESP and EMP.  Chuck Theiling said that this effort has been ongoing for several years, but with support from UMESC, has significantly accelerated in the past few months.  He reviewed the Science Panel’s recommendation, put forth in its 2006 “Implementing Adaptive Management,” that a geographic information system (GIS)-based DSS be developed to assist project sequencing, planning, monitoring, and evaluation, as well as reporting progress on individual projects and the ecosystem’s overall condition. 

 

Theiling said the Corps’ DSS will include planning, project, and modeling modules that will serve as tools for resource managers.  In 2007, the planning module was completed to support project delivery teams (PDTs).  This module uses SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) performance criteria at the project, navigation pool, river reach, and system-wide spatial scales.  Theiling reported that the project module is under development, and will track ecosystem restoration projects at their various phases and support project planning.  Theiling said that the modeling module remains to be developed, but will include a variety of models, potentially including an economic valuation model for restoration.  He provided a brief overview of the DSS architecture, including the inputs and outputs and how the three modules are interconnected.

 

Monique Savage demonstrated how to use the various tools in the interactive project module, which can be viewed at http://umesc-gisdb03.er.usgs.gov/nesp/dss.htm.  She said that the project module can serve as an information clearinghouse by summarizing data, creating area maps, and storing historical information.  It can also perform spatial analysis, for example creating buffers for areas of influence (e.g., water quality, wind, fish, birds, etc.), and analyze monitoring data.  Savage explained that the project module can provide information through various means, such as prefabricated administrative reports (e.g., fact sheets and summations), customized reports that incorporate specific attributes, and SQLs for specific queries.  USGS GIS personnel can also provide individualized support, including other means to obtain desired information. 

 

Savage requested that partners submit feedback to her (Monique.E.Savage@usace.army.mil) or Chuck Theiling (Charles.H.Theiling@usace.army.mil) on the types of information to include in the project module by September 1, 2009.  She proposed the following schedule to complete the project module:

 

  • September:  All data (spatial and tabular) integrated into DSS
  • October:  Reports and queries programmed in Oracle and linked with DSS
  • November:  Preliminary DSS project module report completed, and reviewed by the partnership
  • December:  DSS project module finalized

 

In response to a question from Ken Barr, Savage said that the project module would include all EMP HREPs that have been completed or are currently in planning, design, or construction.  Janet Sternburg said it would be helpful if the project information could be integrated with external data layers, such as 303(d) listings, TMDLs, National Wetlands Inventory, conservation lands, and the National Streams Inventory.  Sternburg asked whether the data would be accessible to download.  Savage said users can download their queries, but not the full GIS coverage.  Theiling added that Corps and USGS staff have been discussing the possibility of including links to the data.  Sternburg said it would be very helpful if users could create and export maps to presentation software.

 

Rick Mollahan asked if consideration has been given to including project information from other restoration programs, including Sections 206, 519, and 1135, in order to fully understand the effects of overall ecosystem management actions.  Theiling said that the DSS is independent of any one program, thus it is possible to include project data from other programs.  Hubbell explained that the DSS has taken several years to create, but now that it has been developed, he expects rapid progress in incorporating data.  Hubbell reported that Corps staff has outreached to other programs, and he anticipates their inclusion relatively quickly. 

 

In response to a question from Brad Walker, Savage clarified that both actual and projected O&M costs are included as database attributes for all projects going forward.  She said historical information from completed projects will be included to the extent possible.  Hubbell said historical O&M data is one of many potential data elements that would require substantial time investment to include. He said Corps staff will need to work with project sponsors to obtain the relevant cost data if it is to be included.

 

In response to a question from Bernie Hoyer, Theiling said that the DSS is likely to include levees as a data layer, though Corps staff is currently determining which levee data to use.  Savage added that Corps staff is also examining issues related to providing public access to the levee data. 

 

Theiling reiterated that the DSS will require an ongoing commitment for updating and other maintenance.  Savage said that adding data layers will require additional investment.  She also cautioned that the cumulative effect of adding data layers is to slow the DSS’s function.  Hubbell noted that the DSS has, thus far, solely focused on systemic layers.  He said another challenge will be determining how to incorporate data layers for smaller areas, if desired.

 

Reach Planning Framework and Schedule

 

Dan Wilcox explained that ecosystem goals and objectives are central to river restoration and adaptive management.  This includes developing models; defining, implementing, and adapting management actions; establishing indicators; monitoring; and evaluating.  He said that ecosystem objectives were defined for each of the UMRS floodplain and geomorphic reaches, providing a logical base to identify and sequence restoration projects and to apply adaptive management.  Those objectives are grouped according to five Essential Ecosystem Characteristics (EECs):  geomorphology, water quality and biogeochemistry, hydrology and hydraulics, habitats, and biota/biological processes. 

 

Wilcox reported that the UMRS Reach Planning Teams (RPTs) are developing geomorphic reach plans for ecosystem restoration within their respective floodplain reaches.  He described the basic contents of the recent Floodplain Reach Objectives Reports.  Wilcox said the geomorphic reach plans will include four components:  ecosystem restoration projects, mitigation actions, cultural stewardship actions, and adaptive management activities.  The restoration component will include NESP, EMP, and Section 519 projects.  Wilcox said the first four-year planning cycle is expected to identify approximately $500 million in NESP projects.  After accounting for the specific authorized projects, adaptive management, and program administrative costs, this would amount to about $82 million for general restoration activities in each floodplain reach.  According to Wilcox, this would fund an average of 12 projects per floodplain reach and 4 projects per geomorphic reach.  The mitigation component will include bankline stabilization, vegetation, backwaters/side channels, fish, and cultural resources projects.

 

Wilcox said the Regional Support Team (RST) will take the lead in writing the geomorphic reach plans on behalf of the RPTs, receiving guidance also from the Science Panel, EMP-CC, and NECC.  The plans will be reviewed by the RPTs, EMP-CC, and NECC.  Wilcox said the RST is composed of Corps staff who have been involved in floodplain reach objective setting.  RST members include Dan Wilcox, Jon Hendrickson, Kelly Baerwaldt, Marshall Plumley, Chuck Theiling, Ken Cook, Todd Strole, and Claude Strausser.  Ken Barr emphasized that the members of the technical work groups (FWWG, FWIC, RRAT Tech, and IRWG) are participating in the RPTs, and therefore will essentially direct the reports’ content.

 

Wilcox explained that the ecosystem objectives will drive project identification and sequencing.  He said that RPTs will rely on a range of data and tools, including the DSS, the Feasibility Study’s ecosystem objectives database, EMP projects and lessons learned, EMP Habitat Needs Assessment (HNA), and Environmental Pool Plans.  Wilcox outlined the Corps’ proposed process for identifying and sequencing projects.  As proposed, the RPTs would identify management actions, name and delineate future project areas based on the defined management actions, prepare project proposals, identify ecological reasons for project sequencing, and prepare reach plans for ecosystem restoration. 

 

Wilcox proposed the following schedule to complete the reach plans:

 

·                     August — November 2009

Develop plans

·                     October 8, 2009

Discuss progress on plans (conference call)

·                     November 18, 2009

Discuss progress on plans (EMP-CC/NECC meeting)

·                     December 2010

Submit draft plans to reach planning teams for review

·                     January 2010

Submit draft plans to EMP-CC/NECC for review

·                     February 2010

Seek EMP-CC/NECC endorsement of final draft plans

 

Barb Naramore asked for clarification regarding how management actions will be identified for the various reach objectives, noting that the list of potential management actions is essentially limitless.  She asked if the RPTs would be given a pre-defined list of management actions.  Wilcox said that the RPTs will be provided with a list of possible management actions, with some being particular to each reach, which the RPTs will use to identify those management actions that might best further their reach objectives.

 

Rick Frietsche asked whether the HNA and/or the Environmental Pool Plans information would be incorporated into reach planning.  Chuck Theiling said that both are captured in the Feasibility Study’s ecosystem objectives maps, which have been integrated into the DSS.  Tim Schlagenhaft asked if a project prioritization ranking system will be developed and explicitly described in the reach plans.  According to Wilcox, the reach planning process will inherently favor projects that emphasize natural river processes.  He explained that management actions will be selected to meet ecosystem objectives, which at their core are aimed at enhancing/restoring natural river processes.  A key question following project identification will be whether there are ecological reasons to sequence the projects in a particular way.  Wilcox acknowledged that other factors, such as geographic program balance, will need to be considered in determining the ultimate balance.  Barr said he envisions that each RPT would identify 15 to 20 ecosystem restoration projects per floodplain reach, totaling about 50 projects for the system.  Barr said the teams will not be asked to rank their projects, but will need to describe contributions to natural river processes in each project’s information sheet.

 

Marv Hubbell said integrating the EMP-CC-endorsed System Ecological Team (SET) structured decision-making process with the UMR reach objectives could provide a very useful framework for project selection.  He emphasized the need to simplify the number of factors used to weigh projects.  Theiling said that the Corps staff has reduced the number of ecosystem objectives to about 12 per floodplain reach, and will be working with the RPTs to further narrow these in the coming months.  According to Theiling, this should allow the teams to rank projects as high, medium, and low across the objectives fairly easily.  He also noted that administrative and programmatic considerations will also be factors in project sequencing.  Barr suggested that this may be a point at which Corps’ programs individually begin to select projects based on their priorities, funding, scheduling, and other considerations.

 

In response to a question from Barry Johnson about how adaptive management activities will fit into the process, Wilcox said that RPTs will identify projects with the greatest learning potential, including the specific insight to be gained and related monitoring needs.  Hubbell noted that adaptive management can be applied to all restoration projects since they are all capable of demonstrating some lesson learned.  Scott Whitney articulated his desire for a robust list of ecologically sound projects from which program managers can select, rather than a ranked sequence of projects to implement in order.  He explained that this approach would allow NESP and the other programs to responds better to opportunities and needs.

 

Brad Walker asked whether the role of the proposed Advisory Panel (AP) has been considered, particularly since the AP is tasked with supporting the development of a ranking system in NESP’s authorization.  Barr said he anticipates that the AP would make recommendations based on input from the RPTs.  The AP may also establish and advise any necessary work groups.  Until the AP is stood up, the NECC will perform the AP’s authorized responsibilities.

 

Schlagenhaft asked how we will achieve a systemic approach to prioritization given the reach-based planning focus.  Barr explained that the RPTs will prioritize projects within their respective floodplain reaches.  Beyond that, within NESP, the AP/NECC will consider system-level factors on an annual basis.  Whitney stressed the importance of maintaining a geographic balance, as well as a balance between restoring more impaired portions of the system and sustaining healthier areas.  Schlagenhaft and Joyce Collins expressed concern that the partnership has not discussed the issue of restoring versus sustaining resources.  Further, Collins said that the partnership may agree to put more emphasize in one area at a particular time—e.g., select projects that restore the ecosystem initially, and then later select projects that will sustain the ecosystem.  Chuck Spitzack agreed.  He said that project ranking could be a potential next step after RPTs have identified projects.  However, Spitzack cautioned against increasing demands on the RPTs at this time.

 

Theiling discussed how the DSS can be utilized for reach planning.  He explained the relationship between ecosystem objectives, management goals, and potential areas for implementing restoration projects.  Theiling reported that Corps staff took the 400+ potential management actions identified during the Navigation Feasibility Study and ranked them high, medium, or low in terms of their potential contribution to the 43 ecosystem objectives.  Staff has also consolidated the 400+ management actions into about 30 more general categories.  The RPTs will have an opportunity to review the consolidated actions.  Theiling presented examples of how the Corps staff envisions the RPTs would identify areas for project implementation.  He explained that the RPTs would select desired characteristics, stressors, and ecosystem objectives to input in the GIS-based DSS.  The DSS would then graphically highlight areas that meet those criteria on a map.

 

Collins expressed concern that the DSS output might not be comparable systemically because management objectives differ among reaches.  Theiling said that the RPTs were given a loose framework to develop objectives that would accommodate reach differences while allowing for translation between the reaches.  Wilcox said that Corps staff preferred that the RPTs work independently so that their objectives would reflect each floodplain reach’s unique qualities.  In response to a question from Jim Fischer, Theiling said the geomorphic reach planning process proposed for this fall does not require that the DSS be finalized.  He said RST staff can provide the necessary support without the final DSS.

 

Barr stressed that what the Corps is seeking now is the partners’ endorsement of the basic proposed process.  Barb Naramore said that, while the presentations had been helpful, it was not entirely clear what the proposed process is.  She asked the Corps to provide a one- to two-page summary explaining the anticipated process, including expectations from partners, required resources, and desired products, so that partners can fully understand the proposed reach planning process.  Fischer concurred that this would be quite helpful.

 

Fischer noted that a disjuncture exists between geomorphic segments for reach planning and the states’ Clean Water Act (CWA) assessment segments.  He suggested that Corps staff consider changing the geographic reaches to be compatible with the CWA assessment segments, in order to facilitate ongoing and future collaboration and communication across programs.  He noted that this would also help in communicating with Congress and the public.  Fischer said it will likely be easier to modify the geomorphic reaches because the CWA assessment segments are established by rulemaking in some states.  Barr said that, at the May 5-7, 2009 Biological Indicators Workshop, the two program areas agreed to 1) use a crosswalk table that shows the spatial relationships between the geomorphic reaches and the CWA assessment segments as a communication tool and 2) engage Water Quality Task Force (WQTF) members in reach planning.  Wilcox observed that both geographic references are logically based on programmatic needs and said they are not fundamentally incompatible.  Schlagenhaft asked whether using CWA assessment segments would significantly affect the ecosystem planning effort.  If not, he advised using them.  If so, he said the geomorphic reaches should be refined.  Barr said that participation of CWA staff at the reach planning meetings will be important.  Fischer asked whether Corps staff have received confirmation that CWA staff will be involved.  Dave Hokanson said he will work with the Water Quality Executive Committee (WQEC) to identify the staff from state and federal water quality agencies who should be invited to the planning meetings.  Theiling mentioned that the DSS can be queried using any spatial construct desired.  Thus, it will be relatively easy to view the restoration plans’ relationship to the CWA assessments.

 

Barr asked EMP-CC and NECC members whether they agreed that the RPTs should move forward with the reach planning framework as proposed.  Sternburg said it is not possible to fully understand the proposed process until it is initiated.  Given this, Sternburg said she would be comfortable proceeding, so long as there is adequate flexibility to address needs as they arise.  Fischer agreed with moving forward as long as check-ins occurred immediately following completion of the initial meetings and at the November EMP-CC/NECC joint session.

 

Collins expressed concerns with the proposed timeline to complete reach plans.  In particular, she noted the significant demands being placed on agencies’ technical experts.  She said they simply cannot meet all of the demands on their time.  Barr and Hubbell described the need for NESP and EMP to initiate planning on new projects relatively quickly.  The reach planning process is intended to identify and select those projects. 

 

Hubbell explained that EMP had discontinued the EMP-CC-endorsed SET process in lieu of reach planning.  However, assuming the Congressional restriction on new EMP starts is lifted, Hubbell said EMP will need new projects on which to initiate planning.  If the geomorphic planning process is complete by February 2010, it could be used to identify these projects.  If not, Hubbell said there are 15 projects that remain from the previous SET planning effort that could be used.  However, he expressed his preference for ensuring that the new EMP projects reflect the agreed-upon UMRS goals and objectives.  Collins said she appreciates the need to identify new projects, but questioned the desire to complete reach planning in such a short timeframe given other workload demands and the likely funding scenarios for NESP and EMP-CC in the next year.  She said it is not necessary to complete the entire process in order to identify a handful of high priority projects on which to initiate planning.  Sternburg said her previous request to allow for flexibility included flexibility on the timeline.  Spitzack said that, while Corps staff would like to move forward ambitiously, they will work with the RPTs to determine an appropriate schedule.  Wilcox said that the RST would do a majority of the work and would provide the RPTs with draft materials in advance of meetings.

 

Barr said that the Corps staff will provide a one- to two- page summary and propose a schedule for the technical work groups within the next couple of weeks.  In addition, the NECC conference call in October will provide a useful checkpoint, and reach planning will be included as an agenda item for the November EMP-CC/NECC joint session.

 

Hubbell reiterated the need to identify projects as soon as possible so that EMP’s planning capability is not further jeopardized.  He said the previous decision to suspend the SET process has proven unfortunate.  Collins and Bob Clevenstine suggested that EMP choose from among the 15 SET-recommended projects, if the reach planning is not completed in a timely manner.  Hubbell said that EMP will follow through with its commitment to reach planning, and if needed, will use the SET-recommended projects.  He added that EMP can rank those projects based on their relationship with the UMRS goals and objectives.

 

Barr asked for input from the technical work group co-chairs, noting that the reach planning will represent a significant effort for their groups, even with the RST’s support.  Brian Johnson (RRAT Tech Chair) and Clevenstine (FWIC Chair) expressed their desire to go ahead with the proposed reach planning process.  EMP-CC and NECC members representing the five states, USFWS, and USEPA, agreed to move forward with reach planning, using the currently-established geomorphic reaches.  Collins said the brief paper describing the process is needed within the next two weeks if the process is going to start in September.

 

UMRS Outreach Team

 

Kevin Bluhm announced that the Corps has contracted with VoxStrategic to develop a name, an umbrella brand, and targeted messages to convey the Corps’ partnership-based programs on the UMRS.  Bill Wittland, of VoxStrategic, described his vision for developing an image and brand that will truly reflect the UMRS partnership.  He emphasized that now is an opportune time to refine the partnership’s voice collectively, in a manner that will articulate a story from all perspectives and will compel stakeholders to be engaged in the UMRS-related efforts.  He acknowledged that the challenge will be to present the partnership’s various, complex efforts in a holistic, understandable manner.

 

Wittland explained that the branding process involves:

 

  • Brand basics — defining a core essence, a promise, an expectation and image, and an enduring loyalty.  This is not a name, logo, slogan/tag line, or a newsletter.  As examples, he cited the Pure Michigan campaign, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and Las Vegas.  The process of developing a brand includes the following steps:
    • Determine if the subject has the necessary qualities to be a brand.  According to Wittland, a brand can unify the complexity and scale of the Corps’ UMRS ecosystem restoration programs, and create a story of restoration on the UMRS.
    • Employ pre-work interviews to determine what matters, who cares, and what success would look like.
    • Conduct analysis and articulation of potential brands.
    • Ensure the brand has validation and alignment among the partners.  Consistency and clarity is very important.
    • Create a strategy for marketing the brand.
    • Develop brand components — i.e., variations of the brand to connect with various stakeholders.
  • Situation analysis — Analyzing results of the pre-work interviews.  Wittland reported that four themes emerged from surveys with select partners:  1) ongoing commitment to balancing ecosystem restoration and navigation; 2) integrated, systemic approach to management and coordination; 3) collaboration and partnership; and 4) action- and outcome-focused projects.
  • Brand positioning.

 

In response to a suggestion offered by Tim Schlagenhaft, Wittland said that the goal of improving river health and attaining ecosystem sustainability is not a brand, but rather a “behind the curtain” concept.  Barb Naramore asked for clarification on whether the Corps is seeking to brand a program, place, or system.  Wittland explained that the brand would be an umbrella identifier for the various Corps’ programs within the UMRS.  Kim Schneider said that Corps staff is seeking input from the partners during today’s discussion on what the brand’s focus should incorporate.  Naramore said that while the brand themes seem to capture the essence of EMP and NESP, there are other important elements within the system, including recreation, human settlement, flood risk, and so forth.  Bluhm said that the brand will portray a UMRS identity, rather than be focused on any specific project(s) and/or program(s).  Chuck Spitzack said that he envisions that the brand would portray how the Corps does business in a collaborative environment.  He added that this effort is not trying to impose a brand on partners, who all have their own spheres through which they relate to the collaboration.

 

Dan Wilcox suggested employing a market survey to determine what attracts stakeholders.  Bluhm agreed that a survey may be a key next step moving forward.  Wittland explained that the partnership needs to first establish a foundation from which multiple messages, all coming from the same perspective, can be tailored for targeted audiences.  This is the stage at which surveys become useful—i.e., as a way to test whether the messages are working with the target audiences.  Jon Duyvejonck suggested creating a sense of place in the brand that instills a desire to live, work, recreate, and raise a family; such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  Wittland explained that Duyvejonck’s suggestion is a good message, but the effort is not at the point of developing messages yet.  He reiterated that the fundamental identity (i.e., brand) must first be established.

 

Wittland listed potential target audiences, including legislators, river professionals, connected publics (e.g., recreaters), and the general public.  He outlined the following attributes that a UMRS brand should encompass:  inclusive integration, balanced collaboration, distinction, and outcome-focused.  Wittland said that a brand is not just about promoting the river.  Instead, inclusion and variety can be successfully brought to bear on multi-faceted, complex projects to yield positive and sustained outcomes.

 

Wittland proposed the following brand positioning statement for partner review:

 

(Initiative brand name) is a collaborative effort involving diverse partners to enduringly sustain the Mississippi River through a balanced address of both its environmental and its economic assets and overall value to our nation…integrating the needs of ecology, navigation, recreation, agriculture, and natural aesthetics.

 

Wittland explained that the brand positioning statement is an internal benchmark and is not publicly released.  It is the shortest, rightest, truest thing you can say about the brand.  Karen Hagerty suggested that the statement also acknowledge the Illinois Waterway.  Janet Sternburg asked whether the intention for the outreach effort is to be inclusive of the entire Mississippi River or focused solely on the UMRS.  She mentioned that the public typically does not view the Mississippi River separately by its upper and lower basins.  Wittland said that the scope of outreach can be redefined in the future.  The partnership could decide to focus on the UMRS initially, and then expand the brand and messages to the entire Mississippi River.  Doug Blodgett mentioned water supply and wastewater assimilation as other important uses of the River that could be incorporated the brand imaging.  Wittland suggested that human uses might be captured by reference to “populations,” in an effort to encompass communities, water supply, etc. 

 

Wittland listed the following key themes/messages that the Corps’ UMRS brand should portray:

 

·     The river.  Focus on the river itself will serve as a hook for many audiences.

·     The river is a system in terms of both navigation and ecosystem restoration.

·     Balanced use, rather than win/lose.

·     Stakeholders/partners are integrated in the Corps’ UMRS programs.

·     The programs are about getting things done.

 

Janet Sternburg said that ecosystem restoration is a tool used to enhance natural resources, and suggested that outreach messages focus on the latter.

 

Wittland presented a number of brand identity examples, noting the associations with certain graphics and word choices.  He distributed samples and a questionnaire to elicit feedback on the brand images.  Mike Jawson suggested referencing the Illinois River, not Illinois Waterway.  He also said the “works” option does not generate positive associations for him.  Sternburg said she does not favor the “Greatest River” tagline, as it might be seen as overreaching.  Rick Nelson said that outreach messages targeted at recreationalists and the general public should describe management efforts in terms of “caring” for the river ecosystem.  Jawson urged caution that the Corps’ UMRS outreach products do not conflict with other UMRS outreach efforts, particularly noting the McKnight Foundation’s One Mississippi campaign.  Naramore said that representational graphics risk leaving out and thus alienating some interests.

 

Wittland encouraged partners to provide input on the images to Kevin Bluhm by August 14.  VoxStrategic will reflect on partners input; collect other programmatic information; collect further input from the UMRS Public Outreach Team, EMP-CC, and NECC; and present a formulated package to the EMP-CC and NECC at the November 19, 2009 Joint Session.  Ken Barr suggested a conference call with partners prior to the November meetings.

 

UMR Biological Indicators Workshop

 

Bill Franz reported that the Biological Indicators Workshop Report can be found at http://www.umrba.org/publications/usacenav/umr-bio-indicators7-09.pdf.   The report describes a number of possible next steps for developing and/or applying biological indicators on the UMR.  He noted that formation of an ad hoc ecosystem restoration-Clean Water Act (CWA) interagency committee seems to be the most logical first step.  Franz reported that the UMRBA Board recommended moving forward with establishing the committee.  He also noted that the A-Team’s Biological Indicators Committee will be tapped for coordinating on various efforts.

 

Marv Hubbell reported that Corps staff has agreed to invest time to participate in the recommended interagency ad hoc committee.  He said that Corps staff are supportive of moving forward with the report’s recommendations.

 

Barb Naramore said that UMRBA staff will consult with the state members of EMP-CC, NECC, and UMRBA’s Water Quality Executive Committee (WQEC) on how best to move forward.  This will help inform the UMRBA Board’s discussion of potential next steps at its November 2009 meeting.

 

Ken Barr reported that the workshop provided an excellent forum for information-sharing, and said that the Workshop Report accurately distills and documents the various presentations and discussions.

 

Development of a Mussel Community Index (MCI)

 

Jon Duyvejonck described the need to develop a mussel community index (MCI) applicable to non-wadable rivers in order to accurately assess mussel populations.  Duyvejonck reported that USACE and USFWS are partnering to develop an MCI.  He explained that this effort is program-neutral.  Duyvejonck reported that EMP will be providing at least the initial funding, and a scope of work (SOW) is under development.  As it currently stands, the SOW identifies four to five phases; including defining what constitutes a mussel bed and developing monitoring protocols and an assessment guide.  Duyvejonck said that this effort will build from an ongoing effort by Teresa Newton and other UMESC staff.

 

Marv Hubbell said that the FY 10-14 LTRMP Strategic and Operational Plan identifies this kind of mussel work as a priority.  He estimated the cost of the first phase at $80,000.

 

Scott Whitney noted that state and federal threatened and endangered (T&E) species laws protecting mussels sometimes prohibit construction of ecosystem restoration projects, which are meant to enhance the ecosystem for a greater number of species.  He expressed frustration that the issue is usually just a presence/absence question, rather than a broader look at abundance and diversity.  Duyvejonck explained that mussel communities are valuable resources that provide important goods and services, but about which we know relatively little.  He also noted that the lack of expertise to reestablish mussel beds is problematic.  Joyce Collins clarified that the T&E laws allow for incidental take.  Therefore, Whittney’s suggestion that a single individual mussel would be a show stopper is not accurate.  Duyvejonck added that projects may be redesigned to protect mussel beds, or stopped entirely if the beds present significant obstacles to construction.

 

Hubbell said that the Corps staff will distribute a draft MCI SOW for partner input shortly. 

 

Janet Sternburg said that mussel resources vary longitudinally.  She suggested that definitions of the quality of mussel beds may be different along the river’s length.  In response to a comment by Jim Fischer, Duyvejonck said that USFWS is working with Dennis Anderson to utilize his mussel database.

 

With no other business, Fischer moved and Bernie Schonoff seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 5:40 p.m.  It was approved unanimously.

 

 

 

 

 


Joint Session Attendance List

August 5, 2009

 

EMP-CC and NECC Members

Elizabeth Ivy

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVD

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Rick Nelson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Mike Jawson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Rick Mollahan

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Bernie Hoyer

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Bernie Schonhoff

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

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5

 

 

Others in Attendance

Jeff DeZellar

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Dan Wilcox

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Kevin Bluhm

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Roger Perk

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Chuck Spitzack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Karen Hagerty

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Marv Hubbell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Leo Keller

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Jim Homann

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Scott Whitney

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Brian Johnson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Brian Markert

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVS

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Bob Clevenstine

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Joyce Collins

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

Rick Frietsche

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Jason Wilson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Rivers NWR

Barry Johnson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Eric Schenk

Ducks Unlimited

Scott Stueve

HDR Engineering

Brad Walker

Izaak Walton League

Tom Boland

MACTEC

Gretchen Benjamin

The Nature Conservancy

Doug Blodgett

The Nature Conservancy

Vince Shay

The Nature Conservancy

Kim Schneider

Schneider Communications

Bill Wittland

VoxStrategic

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Kirsten Mickelsen

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association