Minutes of

Environmental Management Program Coordinating Committee

and

Navigation Environmental Coordination Committee

Joint Session

 

May 19, 2010

 

Ramada Mall of America

Bloomington, Minnesota

 

 

Charlie Wooley of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called the meeting to order at 1:20 p.m. on May 19, 2010.  Other EMP-CC and NECC representatives present were Ken Barr (USACE), Jon Duyvejonck (USFWS), Mike Jawson (USGS), Butch Atwood (IL DNR), Rick Mollahan (IL DNR), Bernie Hoyer (IA DNR), Bernie Schonhoff (IA DNR), Kevin Stauffer (MN DNR), Janet Sternburg (MO DoC), Jim Fischer (WI DNR), and Bill Franz (US EPA).  A complete list of attendees follows these minutes.

 

Ken Barr introduced Tom Crump, the new Chief of Regional Planning for the three UMR Districts.  Crump explained that USACE has recently separated its previously combined planning and program management functions into two divisions and has regionalized several functions – e.g., planning, real estate – across the three UMR districts.  Staff from MVP, MVR, and MVP will work seamlessly across the districts under Crump.  According to Crump, the goal is to ensure that staff resources can be directed efficiently to where they are most needed.

 

Minutes from the November 18, 2009 Joint Session

 

Janet Sternburg moved and Bernie Schonhoff seconded a motion to approve the draft minutes of the November 18, 2009 joint session as written.  The motion carried unanimously.

 

Reach Planning

 

Reach Plan Update

 

Chuck Theiling briefly reviewed the reach planning process to date.  He distributed a list of the Reach Planning Teams’ identified priority areas for ecosystem restoration.  On February 5, 2010, the Regional Support Team (RST) distributed a draft System Planning Report to partners for review.  Theiling said, thus far, the Corps has received only limited comments on the draft.  Theiling said the individual reach plans will be added into the System Report as they receive their individual endorsements.  According to Theiling, significant challenges during this first round of reach planning have included defining geomorphic reach boundaries, the overlap in district boundaries across floodplain reaches, inherent process-related complications, and comparing/prioritizing different project types and scales — e.g., backwater vs. tributary restoration projects.  Theiling noted that the River Resources Coordination Team and River Resources Action Team have yet to address the overlapping areas between the St. Louis and Rock Island Districts.

 

In response to a question from Janet Sternburg, Brian Johnson said the draft System Planning Report, floodplain reach plans, and other associated material are available at
http://umrba.org/umrs-reach-planning-materials.htm.

 

Unimpounded Reach

Johnson reported that the RRAT Tech and Exec have endorsed the draft Unimpounded Reach Plan.

 

Upper Impounded Reach

Jon Hendrickson said the Fish and Wildlife Work Group (FWWG) will review the draft Upper Impounded Reach Plan at its July 15, 2010 meeting.  The Upper Impounded Reach Planning Team will then distribute a revised draft plan, based on FWWG’s input, to the River Resources Forum (RRF) for consideration at its August 26 meeting.  Hendrickson said the Upper Impounded Reach Planning Team identified projects of widely different scales and costs, making it difficult to compare across such divergent projects.

 

Illinois River

Theiling noted that Marshall Plumley is the Illinois River Reach Planning Team’s lead.  He said the draft Illinois River Reach Plan is currently being reviewed by the Illinois River Work Group (IRWG).  Following the IWRG’s review, the Plan will be subject to review by the Illinois River Team.

 

Lower Impounded Reach

Theiling said the Lower Impounded Reach Plan is currently under review by the Lower Impounded Reach Planning Team and the Fish and Wildlife Interagency Committee (FWIC). 

 

Barb Naramore said the lack of a consistent process and schedule information for the reach planning effort has been confusing.  She suggested that UMRBA staff work with the Corps to enhance communication and coordination on an ongoing basis, with the goal of ensuring that all partners have access to basic process and status information for each of the four floodplain reaches.  Corps staff agreed that Naramore’s suggested approach would be helpful.

 

Ken Barr established a deadline of June 30, 2010 for comments on the draft System Report.  Barr reiterated that this version will not include the individual reach plans, but that they will be integrated into the System Report upon receiving their individual endorsements.  EMP and NESP staff will determine when to seek EMP-CC and NECC endorsement of the System Plan and individual reach plans, based in part on when the RRF, RRCT, and RRAT act on the reach plans.

 

Sternburg stressed the need to address overlap in district boundaries across floodplain reaches.  She expressed concern that these overlapping areas will not be considered in project selection.

 

NESP and EMP New Starts

 

Theiling explained the reach planning process for selecting and sequencing future ecosystem restoration projects.  The river technical teams will identify projects that are consistent with the geomorphic and floodplain reach objectives.  The river executive teams will review these projects and recommend priority new starts to the Corps’ RST.  Executive teams with overlapping jurisdiction will consolidate their proposed new starts and compare their common priorities for ecosystem restoration.  The RST will then share these recommended new starts with the NECC and EMP-CC for review and final selection.  

 

Barr said NESP staff plan to initiate planning on one project per floodplain reach in FY 11, and will coordinate with the respective river teams in selecting those projects. 

 

Marv Hubbell reported that EMP staff are in the process of developing 24 project fact sheets and submitting them to MVD for approval.  This includes 18 SET-endorsed projects, four Illinois River projects, and two newly proposed projects in MVP, including L&D 3 fish passage.  In response to a question from Barb Naramore, the reach planning team leads confirmed that these projects align with the partner-endorsed objectives and are on their proposed project lists.  DeZellar noted that L&D 3 fish passage is the only project that has not been confirmed by partners as a priority project.  Hendrickson added that many of the selected projects in the Upper Reach would address several ecosystem objectives, though there are a few that focus only on one or two objectives.

 

In response to a question from Sternburg, Hubbell said EMP has initiated planning on L&D 3 fish passage, but this does not represent a commitment to pursue construction under EMP.  In response to a request from Bernie Hoyer, Hubbell said Corps staff will attempt to include some basic project purpose information in future project lists.

 

Theiling said Corps staff are attempting identify the current content and level of detail for project fact sheets.  He asked EMP-CC and NECC members to contact him with the types of information they use in evaluating and sequencing projects.  Barr and Hubbell said Corps staff will develop a draft fact sheet template for EMP-CC and NECC members’ consideration.  Fischer suggested the project matrix from the draft Upper Reach Plan as a prototype, noting that format is very helpful in making comparisons among projects.  Dan Wilcox noted that projects often change quite a lot during planning.  He recommended that fact sheets focus on the restoration objectives being pursued under each project, rather than on elaborate detail regarding specific project features. 

 

Hubbell said EMP staff will work with partners this fall to sequence projects for planning using the 2003 HREP Planning and Sequencing Framework.  This will involve a two-stage process to consider both ecological and program administration factors at the system scale. 

 

EMP/NESP Transition Plan

 

Marv Hubbell presented a draft EMP/NESP Transition Plan dated May 12, 2010, and outlined revisions to Section V of that draft based on discussion at UMRBA’s May 18 quarterly meeting.  He explained that Section V of the draft was modified to eliminate the “point-in-time transition” reference and include a more general concluding statement, reiterating the need for a transition to follow the process and conditions outlined earlier in the Plan. 

 

Hubbell asked partners to submit any final comments on the Transition Plan to him marvin.e.hubbell@usace.army.mil) by May 28, 2010.  He also asked NECC and EMP-CC members who do not have any further comments to confirm their concurrence with the draft Plan. 

 

Asian Carp

 

Charlie Wooley reported that, while there has not yet been a live silver or bighead carp caught above the O’Brien L&D, there have been four positive e-DNA hits within the last month.  On May 20, the Illinois DNR, in coordination with USACE, US EPA, and USFWS, will implement a second application of rotenone to sample for Asian carp in the area of O’Brien L&D.  Wooley applauded the Illinois EPA and DNR for their commitment to monitoring and their substantial planning and coordination efforts related to the rotenone application, including ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations and working with private landowners.  Wooley emphasized that Asian carp are not just a Great Lakes issue and stressed the need for research on long-term control solutions for the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri Rivers.

 

Don Arnosti asked Wooley for his perspectives on the potential to close the locks at St. Anthony in an attempt to block Asian carp from moving above Minneapolis.  Wooley deferred to USACE, noting that the Corps operates the locks and dams under Congress’ direction.

 

Mike Jawson highlighted some of USGS’s current research related to Asian carp.  The research mostly focuses on potential risks to the Great Lakes and control methods.  Jawson said control research is primarily focusing on the potential for selective toxicants and options for disrupting spawning and hatching.  He said any toxicant involving new materials would take at least five years to undergo the FDA and EPA review processes.

 

Janet Sternburg asked if USGS’s research is specifically targeting silver and bighead carp.  Jawson said initially the research is targeting those two species, but the hope is that any positive outcomes can also be applied to other carp species.

 

Other Business

 

The EMP-CC and NECC members agreed to convene a July web-based teleconference regarding the USFWS’s Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs).

 

With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 3:15 p.m.

 

 


Joint Session Attendance List

May 19, 2010

 

EMP-CC and NECC Members

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Charlie Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RIFO

Mike Jawson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Butch Atwood

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Rick Mollahan

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Bernie Hoyer

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Bernie Schonhoff

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Kevin Stauffer

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

Terry Birkenstock

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Tom Crump

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Jeff DeZellar

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Jon Hendrickson

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Dan Wilcox

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVP

Marv Hubbell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Karen Hagerty

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, MVR

Ron Deiss

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

Kevin Foerster

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMR Refuge

Scott Yess

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UMRCC

Barry Johnson

U.S. Geological Survey, UMESC

Robert Stout

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Don Arnosti

Audubon

Brad Walker

Izaak Walton League

Mark Pranckus

JFNew

Tom Boland

MACTEC

Mark Gorman

Northeast-Midwest Institute

Gretchen Benjamin

The Nature Conservancy

Todd Strole

The Nature Conservancy/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Kirsten Mickelsen

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association