Minutes of the

77th Quarterly Meeting

20th Annual Meeting

of the

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

February 27, 2001

Bloomington, Minnesota

 

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:10 a.m. by Chair Don Vonnahme.  The following State Representatives and Federal Liaison Representatives were present:

 

Don Vonnahme

Illinois Representative (IL DNR)

Gary Clark

Illinois Alternate (IL DNR)

Kevin Szcodronski

Iowa Representative (IA DNR)

Tom Jackson

Iowa Representative (IA DOT)

Steve Morse

Minnesota Alternate (MN DNR)

Steve Johnson

Minnesota Alternate (MN DNR)

Jerry Vineyard

Missouri Alternate (MO DNR)

Terry Moe

Wisconsin Alternate (WI DNR)

Stan Shaw

Wisconsin Alternate (WI DATCP)

Ellen Fisher

Wisconsin Alternate (WI DOT)

 

Gary Loss

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Charlie Wooley

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Region 3)

Dave Carvey

U.S. Department of Agriculture (NRCS, Midwest Office)

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 5)

Larry Shepard

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 7)

Leslie Holland-Bartels

U.S. Geological Survey (UMESC)

Jason Neubauer

U.S. Coast Guard

Todd Dudley

U.S. Coast Guard

 

Others in attendance:

 

Amy Denz

Minnesota DNR

Wayne Anderson

Minnesota PCA

Ken Brummett

Missouri DOC

James Fallon

U.S. Geological Survey (WRD Minnesota)

Alex Haro

U.S. Geological Survey (BRD Conte Lab)

Greg Ruff

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Mark Cornish

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Scott Whitney

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

(Continued)

 

Attendance (continued):

 

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Owen Dutt

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Fred Kollmann

U.S. Department of Agriculture (NRCS)

Jon Duyvejonck

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/UMRCC

Keith Beseke

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Dan Stinnett

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Albert Schulz

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Jim Harrison

Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission

Robin Grawe

Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission

Mark Boerkrem

Mississippi River Basin Alliance/Sierra Club

Barry Drazkowski

St. Mary’s University

Dan McGuiness

National Audubon Society

Jeff Stein

American Rivers

Garry Hollands

ENSR International

George Olson

The Gillette Company

Patmarie Nedelka

Coastal America

Sil Pembleton

Consultant – Audubon

Renay Leone

The Conservation Fund

Gretchen Bonfert

The McKnight Foundation

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

 

Announcements

 

UMRBA Chair Don Vonnahme presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Jim Harrison, in recognition of his 32 years of service to the Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission.  Harrison is retiring February 28, 2001.  In accepting the award, Harrison noted the many changes he has seen in river management and distributed copies of a 1969 letter from Wisconsin Governor Warren Knowles, requesting establishment of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Commission.  He also distributed copies of newspaper articles from 1973 and 1974, describing the controversy between the State of Wisconsin and the Corps of Engineers over disposal of dredged material.

 

Meeting Minutes

 

Terry Moe moved and Steve Morse seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the November 15, 2000 meeting as drafted.  The motion was approved by consensus.

 

Executive Director’s Report

 

Holly Stoerker reported that the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force reviewed the Water Quality Coordination Framework during a conference call in early December.  Most of the suggested changes were editorial in nature.  However, the Task Force did recommend that, when a grant proposal is submitted to EPA,  funding for two years be requested.  Stoerker noted that EPA’s request for proposals related to Section 104 funding is expected to be out in March, at which time UMRBA staff will develop a grant proposal based on the Framework document.  The proposal will be circulated to both the Water Quality Task Force and UMRBA representatives prior to submitting it to EPA.  Stoerker commented that funding from sources other than Section 104 funds will be needed after the initial two years, if the states and EPA agree that the effort is worth continuing.

 

Stoerker referred UMRBA members to her written report, noting that it includes a summary of the discussions at the January 23 meeting of the Water Science and Technology Board regarding its proposed UMR water quality management study and a copy of the results of a recent survey of public water suppliers with UMR intakes.  She also invited comments on the UMRBA Update, which is prepared by UMRBA staff and has been distributed every two or three weeks for the past year.

 

Stoerker reported that the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are co-sponsoring a series of regional workshops to discuss the National Streamflow Information Program.  The first workshop was held in Washington, D.C. on February 15.  Another will be scheduled for St. Louis.  Stoerker urged UMRBA members to attend, noting that the workshops offer an opportunity for nonfederal interests to provide USGS with feedback on its plans to shift funding for a baseline streamgaging network entirely to USGS.  Stoerker distributed copies of two USGS publications describing the National Streamflow Information Program.  She noted that five goals for such a federally funded network have been identified. The workshops are designed to gather feedback on those goals and questions associated with restructuring the existing cooperatively funded network.

 

Jeff Stein asked if the results of the intake operators survey that Stoerker referenced can be publicly distributed.  Barb Naramore said that the survey was still preliminary and requested that Stein and others who wish to cite it wait until the results are finalized.

 

With regard to the financial report included in the written Executive Director’s report, Don Vonnahme requested clarification of the status of Illinois’ dues payment.  Stoerker explained that Illinois typically pays its dues in advance, near the end of the previous fiscal year.  Therefore, Illinois’ FY 2001 dues were paid last year and do not appear on the 2001 financial statement.  If Illinois pays FY 2002 dues in advance, they will appear on the FY 2001 financial statement.

 

Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership

 

Owen Dutt described the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP) as a public/private partnership operating under the auspices of Coastal America.  However, the National CWRP has expressed a desire to expand the program beyond coastal areas, making it available to all 50 states.  Dutt indicated that the presentations about the program at today’s meeting are a way of bringing the CWRP to the attention of agencies in the Upper Mississippi River basin and asking if there is state interest in continuing to explore CWRP possibilities in cooperation with the federal Midwest Natural Resources Group (MNRG).

 

Patmarie Nedelka provided an overview of Coastal America, describing it as a partnership of 12 federal agencies formed in 1991 during the Bush Administration to protect and preserve coastal ecosystems.  She described the organizational structure of Coastal America, which includes a National Principles Group and a National Implementation Team.  The Principles Group consists of the Assistant Secretaries of 12 federal agencies and deals primarily with policy issues.  The Implementation Team consists of senior policy staff from the federal agencies and deals primarily with the planning process.  In addition, there are Principles Groups and Implementation Teams in each of the coastal regions. Local Project Teams develop project working lists and address project implementation issues. Nedelka also described specific projects that each of the organizational levels have addressed, including the Sonoma Baylands, California project for beneficial use of dredged material; the Galilee, Rhode Island project involving wetlands restoration as part of transportation development; and the Quaker Neck Dam project that removed obstruction to fish migration in North Carolina.  Nedelka also described a variety of Coastal America initiatives, including Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers and Educational Student Ocean Conferences. 

 

With regard to CWRP in particular, Nedelka explained that corporations contribute funding or in-kind services to match federal funds being used for restoration projects.  The corporate funds are typically given to a state trust fund or 501(c)(3) organization.  In Massachusetts, in the first six months, 23 companies contributed $1 million. 

 

Nedelka described the CWRP structure as being parallel to that of Coastal America.  There are National, Regional, and State Advisory Boards that consist of corporations, private foundations, and NGOs.  There are currently 28 corporations participating under the leadership of the National Association of Manufacturers. 

 

Garry Hollands of ENSR, an environmental consulting firm, described the benefits that corporations derive from their involvement in the CWRP, including the opportunity to develop trust and positive working relationships with government agencies.  He contrasted this experience with the adversarial relationship often associated with the permit process.  He also noted that corporations benefit from the positive public relations and visibility they receive. 

 

Kevin Szcodronski asked how the cost-sharing arrangement works, noting that with regard to Corps projects, the nonfederal sponsor provides the funds to the Corps and the Corps typically builds the project.  Nedelka explained that the 501(c)(3) organization usually holds the corporate funds and then pays the contractor directly. No funds are provided directly to the federal agency.  In some cases the corporate funds are used to implement a separate part of the project, such as an informational kiosk.  Easements can also be purchased, although this has not yet been done on a Coastal America project. 

 

Owen Dutt explained that a list of eligible projects is developed by the participating agencies and then the CWRP Advisory Boards decide how the available corporate funds will be used.  Garry Hollands explained that funds cannot be used for mitigation projects associated with the permit process. 

 

Jerry Vineyard said that he thought bluffland projects, as well as wetland projects, should be eligible for the CWRP.  He cited the importance of blufflands along the UMR and the fact that they are being lost to development.  Garry Hollands explained that CWRP projects are currently limited to the Clean Water Act definition of “waters of the U.S.” 

 

In response to a question about what would be required to set up a CWRP in the UMRB, Nedelka explained that, since Coastal America is not based in legislation, there is no need to pursue any legislation for the UMRB.  Rather, the Joint Call for Action between UMRBA and MNRG should serve to initiate the process. 

 

In response to a question from Steve Morse about how NGOs are involved, Nedelka and Hollands explained that groups such as Ducks Unlimited are involved in project identification. They also offer technical design expertise and often volunteer labor.  Nonprofit groups also have a more formal role as advisors on the state level advisory committees.

 

Holly Stoerker described the Call for Joint Action, which was included in the agenda packet, as an outgrowth of a meeting she attended to discuss the CWRP with federal agency representatives.  The Call for Joint Action affirms the interest that UMRBA and MNRG have in the CWRP and lists a number of specific steps that staff from these two organizations will take to define how the UMRBA and MNRG might organize themselves to fulfill the functions that Coastal America currently serves with regard to CWRP in other areas of the country.  Owen Dutt commented that the best way to approach CWRP in this region may be to start with individual states, rather than a top-down regional approach. 

 

Kevin Szcodronski asked which corporation would take the lead in this region.  George Olson of the Gillette Company indicated that his company would likely recruit corporate leaders for each state, after consulting with agencies in this region about potential interested companies.  He described the approach used in Alaska, where BP was asked to take the lead and they then brought in other companies by asking for the Governor and Alaska Congressional delegation to speak at a CWRP kick-off event. 

 

Terry Moe questioned how the MNRG, which covers 12 states, would fit with the UMRBA’s jurisdiction of 5 states.  Owen Dutt clarified that the intent is to focus initially only on the 5 UMRB states or some subset of this basin.  Leslie Holland Bartels said that the MNRG has a specific UMRB team and that the fit between the organizations is thus better than it may appear.

 

Terry Moe moved and Kevin Szcodronski seconded a motion to authorize the UMRBA Chair to sign the Call for Joint Action.  Holly Stoerker described two wording changes recommended to her by EPA staff.  In the first dot point, the word “approved” would be changed to “recognized” and in the fifth dot point, the word “ investors” would be changed to “partners.”  Moe and Szcodronski accepted the changes as a friendly amendment and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Terry Moe requested that, if the Call for Joint Action is approved later in the day by MNRG, a copy of the final document be distributed to UMRBA representatives.

 

FY 2002 Federal Budget

 

Holly Stoerker said that President Bush plans to release the general outlines of his FY 2002 budget on February 28.  However, details will not be available until April.  Although the federal agencies do not therefore have specific FY 2002 budget information, Stoerker explained that she had invited each agency to describe what features of the budget will most likely be of interest to the UMR states.

 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — Bill Franz distributed copies of charts comparing FY 00 and FY 01 funding for the five UMR states’ water quality programs.  Allocations for Section 106 water quality planning and administration funds and Section 319 nonpoint pollution funds both increased in FY 01.  FY 01 funding for Section 604(b) has not yet been allocated among Region 5 states.  In Region 7, Section 604(b) funding allocations are the same in FY 01 as they were in FY 00.  Bill Franz and Larry Shepard also described the way in which Section 104(b) funds are allocated.  In FY 01, Region 5 Section 104(b) funds have not yet been allocated for TMDLs and wetlands and have been reduced for NPDES permitting work.  In Region 7, a competitive process is used to allocate Section 104(b) funds.  Allocations have not yet been made in FY 01.

 

With regard to State Revolving Funds (SRFs), Region 5 states saw a decrease in their Clean Water SRF funding in FY 01, but an increase in their Drinking Water SRF funding.  FY 00 data for Region 7 was not available to provide a comparison.  In response to a question from Terry Moe about recent proposals to increase funding for water infrastructure, Bill Franz said that most of the funding would be for new construction rather than maintenance needs.  Barb Naramore pointed out that there are differences of opinion about whether to use grants or loans as the funding mechanism.  Larry Shepard commented that Congressional committees frequently earmark SRF funds for special needs.  As an example, in FY 01, Missouri received an additional $10 million.  EPA has opposed such earmarks because they limit flexibility. 

 

In response to a question about how the states will spend additional Section 106 and 319 funds by the end of the fiscal year, Larry Shepard explained that Iowa typically carries over funds because personnel ceilings hinder the state’s ability to fully utilize Section 106 funding in a single year. 

 

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) — Dave Carvey presented a table summarizing FY 00 and FY 01 NRCS spending in the five UMR states.  Programs and Operations funding totaled $104 million in FY 00 and $107 million in FY 01.  This category includes NRCS staff, watershed planning, RC&D, and Forestry Incentives programs.  Funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation programs, including CRP, EQIP, and WRP, increased from $35 million in FY 00 to $37 million in FY 01. Carvey commented that CRP work had to stop last year as a result of funding caps.  In FY 00, funding for easements was entirely for technical assistance.  In FY 01, the easements funding shifted to financial assistance.  In response to a question from Barb Naramore, Fred Kollmann explained that the technical assistance funding in the Commodity Credit Corporation and Easements categories is the amount the FSA reimburses for NRCS staff technical assistance efforts.

 

Corps of Engineers — Gary Loss said that the Corps budget is expected to be released April 3.  The Rock Island District will be scheduling its annual coordination meetings with the states in early May.  Meetings with the UMR Congressional delegation are scheduled for the third week of April.  Loss indicated that the primary budget categories of interest on the UMR will likely be O&M, major rehabilitation, EMP, and the Comprehensive Plan.  In response to a question about whether the budget will likely include funding for the Comprehensive Plan and the sediment/nutrient study, Loss said that the final decisions had not yet been made.  However, there are indications that there will be no new starts in the FY 02 budget.  Holly Stoerker asked about the Corps’ capability to spend the fully authorized EMP funding level, noting that the UMR Congressional Task Force has requested full funding and described it at as being within the Corps’ capability.  Loss said that EMP capability has not yet been determined.  In response to a question from Terry Moe, Loss said that the EMP capability determinations will include USGS’ capability with regard to the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program.

 

Loss also reported that the National Academy of Sciences report on the navigation study is scheduled for release on February 28, although no one in the Corps has yet seen the report.  The Corps’ response to the findings of the Inspector General was due February 6, but according to Loss, will be deferred until a new Assistant Secretary is named.  Proposed changes to the management structure of the study will be included in that report.  A meeting of the Governors Liaison Committee (GLC) will be scheduled when appropriate.  Terry Moe suggested that the Corps refresh the membership of the GLC, noting that Wisconsin’s GLC representative was no longer with the Governor’s office.

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) — Charlie Wooley described the FWS’ budget structure, which includes a Resource Management Account consisting of the Ecological Services Program, Refuges and Wildlife Program, and Fisheries Program.  Other accounts include Construction, Land Acquisition, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and Natural Resource Damage Assessment.  The UMR Ecological Services program includes the field offices in Rock Island and the Twin Cities.  In FY 01, the UMR work of these two offices is estimated at $375,000.  Wooley outlined the out-year funding and staffing needs for the Ecological Services Program, including Corps technical assistance, threatened and endangered species, habitat needs assessment, watershed restoration, water quality assistance, UMRCC support, and aquatic nuisance species.  FY 01 work on the three UMR refuges (Upper Mississippi River, Mark Twain, and Illinois River refuges) is estimated to be $5.517 million.  Wooley indicated that future staff, maintenance, and facility needs will hopefully be covered by new legislation related to the Centennial Legacy Plan.  However, he noted $7 million in land acquisition needs.  With regard to fisheries, Wooley estimated that $600,000 would be spent in FY 01 on the combined work at UMR Fisheries Offices and the National Fish Hatchery.  While Fisheries funding has been level for the past 10 years, 35 projects totaling $3.1 million have been identified as unfunded needs.  These projects are primarily related to large migratory species, aquatic nuisance species, and endangered native mussels.  In response to a question about funding for O&M of EMP projects on refuges, Wooley explained that those projects are covered by the FWS refuge O&M budget.

 

[Federal budget presentations continue after the presentation about the McKnight Foundation’s Mississippi River program.]

 

McKnight Foundation’s Mississippi River Program

 

Gretchen Bonfert provided an overview of the McKnight Foundation’s Mississippi River Program and distributed a list of active grants that the foundation has made under the program. McKnight’s environmental grant making, which includes both the Mississippi River program and energy-related grants, accounts for 8 percent of its $100 million in annual grants. The purposes of the Mississippi River Program are to strengthen protection of river corridors and watersheds in the Midwest; to ensure full consideration of the environment in federal agency decisions about the Mississippi River; and to build a potent constituency for river protection, led by vibrant and effective river conservation groups. 

 

Bonfert described the types of projects that McKnight does not fund, as well as the organizations that currently receive foundation funding.  She described, in particular, the Headwaters to Backwaters project that includes $2 million per year for a total of 17 grantees.  The project is being coordinated by the Conservation Fund, which has identified a total of $100 million in projects, for which one third of the funds have been raised to date.  Approximately 50-60 percent of the funds support urban revitalization, 30-40 percent support rural land protection efforts, and 10 percent support constituency-building. 

 

Bonfert also described the Blufflands Alliance, which covers 24 counties in 4 states and leverages $5 for every $1 McKnight invests. She also highlighted the Audubon Ark as a particularly effective constituency-building project, attracting 7000 people during its trip last year between Cairo and the Quad Cities.  Dan McGuiness said that the Audubon Ark and canoe flotilla will travel between Lake Itasca and Fort Snelling from May 18 to June 22 of 2001.  That trip will be the last leg of Audubon’s three-year effort to cover the entire UMR. The ultimate goal is to maintain a permanent floating environmental center.

 

Following Bonfert’s presentation, Gary Clark noted that Bonfert had worked on river issues for many years, most notably as part of the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s efforts to develop an integrated management plan for the Illinois River.

 

FY 2002 Federal Budget (continued)

 

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) — Leslie Holland Bartels characterized the FY 01 budget  for USGS as “good,” noting that, although the allocations have not yet been received, UMESC will see a $400,000 (13 percent) increase.  Those increased funds will focus on geospatial risk assessment for endangered mussels and a decision support system for pallid sturgeon and least tern on the Middle Mississippi.  With regard to FY 02, Bartels indicated that no final decisions have yet been made, but the media have reported USGS budget cuts may be as high as 22 percent.  She noted that a 22 percent cut at UMESC would mean a loss of $1 million, or 30 percent of the Center’s total research budget.  In contrast to the reported cuts, Bartels noted that Interior Secretary Babbitt had allowed USGS to put forward a request for a $400 million increase. 

 

In response to a question from Steve Morse about the status of the Hypoxia Action Plan, Bill Franz said that the federal agencies have estimated the need to be $10 billion over 10 years.  Barb Naramore noted that she and Wayne Anderson of Minnesota PCA have discussed the possibility of starting some discussions between the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force and the Hypoxia Working Group on whether there is a potential role for the UMRBA in coordinating some of the watershed planning activities identified in the Plan.  Related to that issue is the outstanding question of whether additional funding will in fact be made available.

 

In response to a question from Terry Moe regarding UMESC’s capability to utilize full funding for the EMP Long Term Resource Monitoring Program, Bartels indicated that the Center is fully capable of using the entire authorized funding amount and more, if it is available.  In particular, she referenced the outstanding bathymetric work and the increasing costs of the baseline monitoring program.

 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — Al Schulz described FEMA’s funding sources, which are primarily National Flood Insurance Policy fees, but are sometimes augmented by disaster relief funding.  In FY 01, Region V received $1,494,752 and Region VII received $960,853 for studies related to floodplain mapping.  The estimated cost of updating the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) nationwide is $850 million.  The FIRM updates for the UMRS are estimated to cost $35 million.  Neither FEMA nor the Corps have yet agreed to request funding within their budgets for those maps.

 

Schulz also presented figures showing the average annual flood damages over the past 10 years in each of the UMRB states.  The averages reflect payments made by FEMA for individual and public assistance, but do not include agricultural damages.  Iowa ranks 4th nationwide, with average annual damages of $313 million.  The other states’ averages are $272 million in Missouri, $219 million in Illinois, $145 million in Minnesota, and $61 million in Wisconsin.  Kevin Szcodronski commented that the damage figures appear high and speculated that the 1993 flood may be contributing to those high damages.  He also questioned what the damage figures may imply about land use policy.  Schulz noted that the five UMR states are national leaders in land use policies to prevent flood damages.

 

Coast Guard — Jason Neubauer distributed copies of excerpts from the Coast Guard’s FY 01 budget and a recent Public Affairs memo describing funding status and operational reductions.  Neubauer explained that in FY 01, the Coast Guard has had to cut back operations by 10 percent to meet a $91 million shortfall resulting from high fuel prices.  Given that search and rescue operations are top priority, other items such as maintenance of flood control equipment, buoy tending, and travel for meetings may be cut.  In response to a question from Terry Moe about the status of state boating safety funds, Neubauer described such grants as a secondary mission that may be cut to offset shortfalls in primary operations.

 

Holly Stoerker stated that the process used to develop UMRBA testimony on FY 02 federal agency budgets will be similar to that used last year.  However, she cautioned that the process may need to be expedited because the President’s budget is being released later than is typical.

 

Fish Passage

 

Dr. Alex Haro of USGS’ S.O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center provided an overview of anadromous fish restoration efforts in New England, noting that there are hundreds of small dams in New England, many of which are now being targeted for removal.  The 1965 Anadromous Fish Conservation Act mandates fish passage at FERC-licensed dams that obstruct migration of anadromous species.  This requirement caused a flurry of construction activity in the 1960s-1980s, including fish lifts or elevators and technical fishways.  The target was originally upstream migrants, but more recent MOAs with dam owners mandate downstream passage as well.  Haro also described the changes in fish populations resulting from fish passage devices, noting that the effectiveness of the measures varies by species. 

 

Haro also provided background on the Conte Lab facility, which is a $17 million lab in Turner Falls, Massachusetts that conducts basic and applied research addressing management concerns for anadromous and other migratory fish.  Areas of research include hydraulic engineering, fish passage biology, ecology, fish physiology, and fish behavior.  Haro described the issues surrounding design of a fishway at Little Falls dam on the Potomac River as an example of the planning and design considerations involved in such projects.  Issues included which species to target, options for notching the dam, how to minimize O&M costs, how to provide adequate attraction flow, the need to maintain the reservoir for water supply, and fish responses to velocity and turbulence.

 

Haro offered a variety of questions for consideration in addressing fish passage on the Upper Mississippi River: 

·        Which fish species are to be passed or excluded?

·        What is the timeframe for passage (only spring, or summer as well)?

·        Is there a need for both upstream and downstream passage?

·        Is there a commitment to evaluation and continuing research?

·        What are the ecological context and consequences, including the effect on exotic species?

 

Jon Duyvejonck said that fish passage at UMR dams is being considered as part of the mitigation for navigation capacity expansion.  For example, there is a proposal for fish passage at Lock and Dam 19 that is estimated to cost $47 million.  Duyvejonck indicated that some biologists don’t believe fish passage should be considered mitigation, but rather should be done as part of operation and maintenance.  Outstanding questions include what is the effect of fish passage on exotics, how much of a priority should fish passage be in the LTRM program, what is the commitment to operation and monitoring, and should nonfederal interests cost-share? 

 

Terry Moe said that Wisconsin has had a long-standing interest in fish passage between UMR pools to avoid pockets of fish population.  He criticized the Corps of Engineers for moving too slowly on this issue, citing the on-going major rehabilitation program for the locks and dams as a missed opportunity to incorporate fish passage.  Moe described a 1931 letter from the Secretary of War indicating that fish passages at UMR locks and dams would be installed as necessary.  He expressed frustration that there has been no action despite this historical commitment and indicated that Wisconsin believes there may be legal recourse.  He also stated that Wisconsin will not cost-share fish passage projects.

 

Jon Duyvejonck commented that, although there is great interest in moving forward with fish passage projects, there is no consensus among biologists on how to proceed.  He cautioned against focusing on a single approach.  Leslie Holland Bartels explained that there are, in fact, varying degrees of fish passage on the UMR now.  However, the degree of passage, where fish pass, the differences between dams, and the differences between species are not fully understood.  She said that existing data needs to be evaluated and that modeling needs to be done.

 

Don Vonnahme said that a number of low head dams in Illinois are coming under state ownership.  Thus, Illinois DNR is exploring dam removal, as well as fish passage, on many of its smaller streams.  Issues include migration of exotic species, sediment contamination, and the desire of small communities to preserve the impounded ponds as part of local parks.

 

To conclude the discussion, Vonnahme noted that it was not UMRBA’s intention to take any action on fish passage at this meeting.  Rather, he encouraged UMRCC to bring issues or specific project proposals to UMRBA’s attention, as appropriate, in the future. 

 

It was agreed that, at the May meeting, the UMRBA would devote its attention to objective #4 of the UMRCC report: using dams to mimic natural flood pulses and low flows.

 

Interbasin Diversion Consultation

 

Don Vonnahme explained that the UMRBA annual meeting is the time at which, under the terms of the 1989 Charter, each state reports on any out-of-basin diversion requests that may have been made during the previous year.  In response to Vonnahme’s query, each state reported that no such diversion requests had been made.  UMRBA staff will transmit a letter to each of the five Governors describing the results of the required consultation.

 

Jerry Vineyard reported that, although there had been no diversion requests in Missouri, the state is concerned about potential diversions out of the upper Missouri River as a result of the recent passage of the Dakota Water Resources Act.  According to Vineyard, the Act could lead to linkage of parts of the Garrison Diversion project, diverting water from the Missouri River to the Hudson Bay watershed.  In response, the State of Missouri and the Province of Manitoba have executed a Memorandum of Understanding expressing their joint concerns about such a potential diversion and pledging their mutual support for efforts opposing water transfers between major watersheds.

 

FEMA Membership in UMRBA

 

Don Vonnahme said that the UMRBA state members wish to extend Federal Liaison Membership to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  He asked that staff transmit letters of invitation to both FEMA Regions V and VII.

 

In response to a question from Terry Moe, Holly Stoerker said that such an action would not require any changes to the UMRBA By-Laws

 

UMRBA Budget Adjustment

 

Don Vonnahme noted that UMRBA staff has requested that the UMRBA’s FY 2001 budget be increased by $1500 in the category of “UMRBA Time Wages” to secure web site development assistance.  He noted that the only affect on the budget would be to reduce net income.  With no objections the budget amendment was agreed to by consensus.

 

Future Meeting Schedule

 

Holly Stoerker announced that the next two UMRBA/EMP-CC meetings have been scheduled for May 15-16 in Davenport, Iowa and August 7-8 in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

 

It was agreed that the fall 2001 meetings would be held November 14-15 in St. Louis.  If a Governors Liaison Committee meeting for the navigation study is needed, it will be held on November 13.

 

Election of Officers

 

Don Vonnahme noted that there is currently a vacancy in Wisconsin’s UMRBA representation.  In addition, Missouri’s UMRBA representation may be in flux. 

 

Kevin Szcodronski nominated Steve Morse of Minnesota to be UMRBA Chair and Don Vonnahme of Illinois to be Vice-Chair.  Terry Moe seconded the motion.  The motion passed with no objection.

 

Don Vonnahme announced the 20th anniversary of the UMRBA and invited all in attendance to share in celebrating the occasion.

 

The meeting was adjourned at 3:20 p.m. for the cake cutting.