Minutes of the

97th Quarterly Meeting

of the

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

February 23, 2006

St. Louis, Missouri

 

 

The meeting was called to order at 9:30 a.m. by UMRBA Chair Todd Ambs.  The following were present:

 

UMRBA Representatives and Alternates:

 

Gary Clark

Illinois (DNR)

Rick Mollahan

Illinois (DNR)

Martin Konrad

Iowa (DNR)

John Hey

Iowa (DOT)

Mark Holsten

Minnesota (DNR)

Dick Lambert

Minnesota (DOT)

Dru Buntin

Missouri (DNR)

Todd Ambs

Wisconsin (DNR)

Gretchen Benjamin

Wisconsin (DNR)

Larry Kieck

Wisconsin (DOT)

 

Federal Liaisons:

 

Charles Barton

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 5)

Charlie Wooley

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

Michael Jawson

U.S. Geological Survey (UMESC)

Mike Sullivan

Natural Resources Conservation Service

Bob Goodwin

Maritime Administration

 

Others in attendance:

 

Tim Schlagenhaft

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Janet Sternburg

Missouri Department of Conservation

Rich Worthington

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (HQ)

Susan Smith

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Jeff DeZellar

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Chuck Spitzack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Marv Hubbell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Jennie Sauer

U.S. Geological Survey

Dave Ellis

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Stoney Cox

Cox & Associates

Ron Kroese

The McKnight Foundation

Mark Beorkrem

Mississippi River Basin Alliance

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

 

Meeting Minutes

Gary Clark moved and Mark Holsten seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the November 15, 2005 meeting, as drafted.  The motion was approved unanimously.

 

Executive Director’s Report

Holly Stoerker highlighted the following items from her written report provided in the agenda packet:

§          On December 30, UMRBA received notification that the McKnight Foundation approved UMRBA’s grant proposal for “organizational options” related to interstate water quality management.  On January 12, the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force and 5 State water quality administrators met by conference call to launch the project.

§          The National Research Council panel on the Mississippi River and the Clean Water Act met on January 30-31 in St. Louis.  Although Holly Stoerker was scheduled to make a presentation to the panel, travel problems precluded her participation.  She will be scheduled to address the panel at one of its future meetings (May or September 2006) to discuss the work of UMRBA’s Water Quality Task Force.

§          Ongoing OPA and UMR Spills Group efforts include: mapping for the Inland Sensitivity Atlas; Net Environmental Benefits Analysis (NEBA) workshop on March 8-9 in Savannah, Illinois; support for the 2007 Spill of National Significance (SONS) exercise; early warning monitoring pilot probe at Lock & Dam 15; and the meeting of the UMR Spills group on February 28-March 1 in Moline, Illinois.  At UMRBA’s May quarterly meeting, the Spills Group and OPA work will be showcased.

§          The Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) recently released its final report on interstate organizations.  The report will be featured at ICWP’s annual Washington Roundtable on February 28-March 1, 2006.

§          On February 16, Holly Stoerker (UMRBA), Barry Johnson (USGS), Dick Steinbach (USFWS), and Dan McGuiness (Audubon) described the EMP to an assembly of government agencies, NGOs, and Congressional offices in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The pending Water Resources Development Act includes provisions that would establish an EMP program on the Rio Grande River, similar to the Upper Mississippi River EMP.

§          A number of appointment letters have recently been received, including:

-       February 7, 2006 letter from Governor Vilsack appointing Martin Konrad as Iowa’s primary UMRBA representative, replacing Mike McGhee, and confirming Iowa’s other 3 representatives.

-       December 29, 2005 memo appointing Mike Sullivan as NRCS’s representative to UMRBA

-       January 17, 2006 letter appointing Mike Jawson as USGS’s representative to UMRBA.

§          UMRBA’s FY 2006 financial situation is sound.  Thus, after consultation with UMRBA Chair Todd Ambs, a number of unbudgeted, but needed, computer refreshment purchases will be made this year.  In addition, a new office lease is being negotiated.

§          UMRBA celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2006.  To acknowledge this landmark, each of the quarterly meetings this year will showcase one of UMRBA’s major program areas.  In particular, the August 2006 quarterly meeting will be held in La Crosse and will coincide with a special 20-year anniversary celebration for EMP.

 

Interbasin Diversion Consultation

Todd Ambs explained that the Interbasin Diversion Charter, signed by the Governors in 1989, requires that, at UMRBA Annual Meetings, each State report on out-of-basin diversion requests that may have been made during the previous year, and which would exceed an average of 5 million gallons per day during any 30 day period.  The following reports were offered in accordance with the Charter:

§          Martin Konrad reported that there were no diversion requests in Iowa.

§          Gary Clark reported that there were no diversion requests in Illinois.  However, he noted that the Governor’s budget request includes $1 million for water quantity planning.  This funding would launch a 3-year planning initiative costing up to $5 million.

§          Todd Ambs reported that there were no diversion requests in Wisconsin.  He said that, like Illinois, Wisconsin is increasingly concerned about water quantity, particularly groundwater.  The Great Lakes Basin Annex 2001 inspired state legislation to protect sensitive waters of the state.

§          Mark Holsten reported that there were no diversion requests in Minnesota.

§          Dru Buntin reported that there were no diversion requests in Missouri.  However, Missouri is preparing comments on a Bureau of Reclamation study on the Garrison Diversion in North Dakota.  One option is to divert Missouri River water to meet needs in the Red River Basin.  Missouri, Minnesota, and Canada oppose the proposal.

 

Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP)

 

Washington Update

Rich Worthington said that Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)), John P. Woodley, forwarded the Chief’s Report to OMB on January 17, 2006, together with draft letters to be used for subsequent transmittal to Congress.  The Chief’s Report was originally transmitted to the ASA (CW) in December 2004.  Now that the report has been forwarded to OMB, OMB has 60 days to transmit it to Congress.  According to Worthington, Woodley’s letter expresses general concurrence with the Chief’s Report, with two exceptions:

§          With regard to authorization and construction of the 7 new locks, the Assistant Secretary is proposing that preliminary engineering and design (PED) be initiated, but that authorization be withheld until completion of new economic analysis.

§          The Assistant Secretary is proposing that a global positioning system (GPS) be evaluated for use in assisting lockages.

 

Holly Stoerker asked if Assistant Secretary Woodley is inclined to change the cost-sharing recommendation in the Chief’s Report.  She noted that the cost sharing description on page 4 of the letter does not mention one of the four justifications for 100 percent federal funding, i.e. projects that modify navigation system operations or structures.  Worthington explained that was an inadvertent omission.

 

Dru Buntin noted that Woodley’s recommendations differ from the joint Governors’ position on lock authorization.  He asked if it would be useful and appropriate to restate the Governors’ position.  Gary Clark suggested that UMRBA restate the Governors’ position, but that issuance of a second joint Governors’ position not be sought.  It was agreed that UMRBA would send a letter to OMB Director Bolten, forwarding a copy of the Governors’ March 2005 joint statement and pointing out how Woodley’s recommendation for “conditional” authorization differs from the Governors’ call for “immediate” authorization.

 

Rich Worthington also noted that there are reports that USDA Secretary Johanns recently stated that he did not believe new locks are necessary on the Upper Mississippi River.  Worthington said this stance differs from USDA’s position at the time of the feasibility study.

 

Holly Stoerker reported that 80 Senators sent a letter to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders on January 25, 2006 requesting that the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) be brought to the Senate floor for consideration.

 

Vision, Goals, and Objectives

Chuck Spitzack said that the May 2006 meeting of NECC/ECC will focus on economic issues and emphasize navigation adaptive management.  In particular, additional work needs to be done on goals and objectives for economic and human uses.  Spitzack explained that the effort through NESP to identify vision, goals, and objectives is fundamental to adaptive management and the collaborative process.  The original list of 2000 ecosystem objectives was narrowed down to 81 and has been further refined by the Science Panel to 46.  However, Spitzack explained that the 46 objectives do not include objectives for human use.

 

Spitzack indicated that the Corps will be looking to NECC/ECC for acceptance of the ecosystem vision, goals, and objectives.  Acceptance is considered to be in a “working” sense, not a “permanent” sense.  Work will also begin on developing navigation goals and objectives.  The Corps’ operations staff will begin this process, which will then be further developed by a Navigation Adaptive Management Program Delivery Team (PDT).

 

Spitzack explained that a bottoms-up approach will be used to operationalize the objectives, using the various PDTs.  Hank DeHaan is leading three pilot planning efforts at the pool/reach scale.  This information will then be extrapolated and aggregated to the system level. 

 

In addition, Spitzack said that “philosophies of implementation” also need to be developed.  These would be guiding principles for adaptive management.  The Science Panel will begin this work, but Spitzack indicated that others, including UMRBA, will be involved. 

 

Spitzack explained that the draft report from the NESP Environmental Science Panel distributed in January 2006 is the panel’s annual report.  Comments are due March 10.  According to Spitzack, those comments may or may not lead to changes in the report by the Panel.  However, the comments could affect how the institutions involved in NESP use the Science Panel report. 

 

Martin Konrad noted that the water quality goals in the Science Panel report reach beyond the river itself and questioned the relationship of those broader goals to NESP.  Spitzack explained that the objectives are for the ecosystem and are not intended to be specific to NESP or any other program.  Solutions may be beyond the system.

 

Dru Buntin commented that, although most of the objectives are directly related to Corps or Fish and Wildlife Service authorities, the water quality objectives seem more related to State and EPA authorities.  Ken Barr explained that the inclusion of water quality objectives was not intended to suggest that NESP will be setting TMDLs or be involved in water quality management.  However, water quality objectives affect the design of habitat restoration projects.  Buntin questioned how the indicators associated with NESP water quality objectives and their proposed quantification relate to existing State water quality regulatory programs.  Spitzack said he recognizes the need for additional dialog on this relationship.  Todd Ambs asked what the appropriate vehicle might be for such discussions and he commented that UMRBA should be engaged.  Spitzack said that NECC/ECC will be asked to endorse the Vision/Goals/Objectives pyramid at its May meeting.

 

Gretchen Benjamin commented that the 46 ecosystem objectives appear to be good “working” objectives, even though many of the implementation issues have not yet been addressed.  She indicated that Wisconsin will be providing comments to the Corps by the March 10 deadline.  

 

Mark Beorkrem said that some EMP projects include work in upland areas.  He suggested that UMRBA would be a good forum for addressing similar connections in NESP, between river restoration and watershed efforts.

 

Tim Schlagenhaft expressed concern that the objectives are not prioritized.  Spitzack said the PDTs will need to prioritize them.  He also expressed the opinion that “guiding principles” from the Science Panel will help with regard to priorities.

 

Spitzack noted that one of UMRBA’s discussion questions about the goals and objectives regards their application and the process for gaining acceptance or endorsement of them.  Spitzack explained that the goals and objectives are for the river as a whole and that the River Council and River Management Teams will be “caretakers” of the goals and objectives.  He expressed hope that UMRBA would deem the goals and objectives appropriate as a “beacon” for the River Council.  Todd Ambs noted that the goals and objectives are being developed in a transitional time.  There is no longer a Governors’ Liaison Committee for the Corps’ feasibility study and the proposed River Council has not yet been established.  Given this situation, Ambs asked how UMRBA and the states will have input on the goals and objectives.  He noted that UMRBA previously recommended that state representation on the River Council be determined by UMRBA. 

 

In response to UMRBA’s question regarding the time and financial resources required to operationalize the objectives, Spitzack said that there is no cost estimate, but that it will be an iterative process.  Ken Barr said that approximately $250 million of NESP’s first increment plan is to be devoted to the monitoring and modeling needed for adaptive management.  Stoerker commented that the work associated with developing goals and objectives and ongoing adaptive management is substantial.  Therefore, there needs to be an ongoing dialog about the relative priority of science/data/modeling work and actual on-the-ground restoration projects.  She noted that this was a major issue in the initial years of EMP and will likely be an even more important issue for NESP, given that there is no Congressional intent expressed in the NESP authorization with regard to the relative allocation of funds.

 

First Increment Cash Flow

Spitzack showed a graph depicting NESP cash flow needs over the first increment of the program (i.e., approximately 15 years). He noted that the cash flow estimates are not optimized and are not evenly distributed over time.

 

Institutional Arrangements

Spitzack said the Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service will be reviewing the comments received on the draft operational model for the proposed River Council.  The revised draft will then be distributed to other partner agencies.  However, Spitzack noted that endorsement would not be sought until NESP is authorized.

 

Gretchen Benjamin expressed concern that the process for review and approval seems to include only the Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service.  Spitzack said the process is currently internal to the two federal agencies, but will eventually include others.  In response to a question from Dru Buntin, Spitzack said the Corps does intend to respond to UMRBA’s comments on the institutional arrangements.  Charlie Wooley stressed that the institutional arrangements need to reflect a true partnership.

 

Holly Stoerker distributed copies of the comments that UMRBA submitted to the Corps on the draft operational model for the River Council.

 

EMP and NESP Strategic Planning

Holly Stoerker summarized the process UMRBA is using to develop and review a series of issue papers related to EMP and NESP strategic planning.  She reviewed the status of the eleven issues, noting that the final issue papers will be reviewed at UMRBA’s May quarterly meeting, with the goal of developing a legislative proposal for consideration at UMRBA’s August 2006 meeting.

 

Stoerker summarized the feedback received to date as follows:

§          “partnership language” should be added to the list of issues

§          With regard to Issue Paper #1 (LTRMP):

-       The list of options should be expanded to include simply interpreting the NESP legislation to include the LTRMP.

-       The preferred option appears to be revising the NESP language to incorporate the LTRMP authority.

§          No substantive comments have been received on Issue Paper #2 (Ecosystem Restoration Authority)

 

Barb Naramore provided an overview of Issue Paper #3 related to cost sharing for ecosystem restoration.  She described the differences between the cost sharing provisions in NESP and EMP and the reasons for the differences.  Rather than identifying a series of options, Naramore explained that the issue paper on cost sharing simply offers the conclusion that the NESP cost sharing provisions are preferred because they support a broader range of projects and should help to address some of the limitations that have been encountered in EMP.  Stoerker noted that a related issue is O&M costs and responsibility.  Charlie Wooley indicated that the Fish and Wildlife Service spends $500,000 annually on O&M of EMP projects on refuges.  The refuge O&M budget has been funding this work to date.  But in the future other funding sources may need to be found.

 

Naramore provided an overview of Issue Paper #4 related to the funding framework and total cost of EMP and NESP, respectively.  She explained the difference between the two programs, whereby EMP has an annual funding authorization with no sunset and NESP has a total authorized sum with no time limit.  Naramore outlined the options for addressing these differences, including:

§          Retain the EMP’s annual authorization and NESP’s total cost authorization

§          Shift the EMP to a total cost authorization

§          Modify the NESP legislation to authorize annual funding for the first increment of ecosystem restoration measures

§          Maintain authorization for the combined cost of the current EMP and proposed NESP

§          Add funding to NESP ecosystem restoration for costs related to long term monitoring

§          Do not seek to retain any portion of EMP funding authority

 

Naramore also described the considerations at play in evaluating these options, including such factors as flexibility, predictability, inflation, identifying and justifying total costs, and the realities of the appropriations process.

 

Todd Ambs commented that the monitoring component is critical to quantifying the effect of these ecosystem restoration programs. This fact should be the rationale for advocating that the LTRMP be put in the NESP authorization. 

 

Gretchen Benjamin noted that the option of shifting the EMP to a total cost authorization would make it more similar to the way in which the navigation improvements are authorized.  She also said she would not support an option that does not seek to retain any portion of the EMP funding in an integrated program.

 

Jennie Sauer commented that, although funding flexibility is important, funding predictability is also important for monitoring.

 

Naramore provided an overview of Issue Paper #5 regarding partnership language and authority for funding transfers.  She explained the differences in the approaches used in the EMP and NESP authorizing language and outlined ways in which the EMP partnership language has impacted implementation of that program.

 

Mike Jawson noted that USGS would like to see USGS’s science role explicitly acknowledged in NESP.  Gretchen Benjamin expressed support for strong partnership language, similar to the NESP amendment that Congressman Ron Kind offered last year.  Todd Ambs agreed, noting that partnership language is essential, not merely “helpful.”  He commented that if the Congressional authorizing committees continue to have reservations about the impact of such language on the Corps’ authority, it might be possible to allay such concerns by having the Assistant Secretary offer an opinion regarding the provision’s affect on Corps authority.

 

Water Quality Update

Dave Hokanson distributed a summary of the ongoing work of the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force regarding sediment-related water quality criteria.  In particular, Hokanson described the outcome of the Task Force’s February 2006 meeting at which general agreement was reached on an approach for addressing both suspended and bedded sediment.  In the short term that strategy includes developing a guidance document for addressing suspended sediments, preparing a “white paper” that would examine issues related to sedimentation and bedded sediments, and developing a list of research needs.  Hokanson explained that an interstate MOU will be drafted to express the States’ commitment to working together on this approach. 

 

Todd Ambs noted that the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force is tackling the kinds of issues that are important.  He also commented that the number and variety of things UMRBA is able to accomplish with the Water Quality Task Force is striking.  However, according to Ambs, one of the ongoing challenges is to more fully engage the management level within each state water quality agency.  Ambs said Wisconsin is unique because all the state water functions are within one agency and department.  He expressed his commitment to working with his counterparts in the other states.

 

Hokanson also mentioned that the Task Force and state water quality administrators are launching a project to evaluate organizational options that would more fully address interstate water quality management under the Clean Water Act.  The McKnight Foundation has provided grant funds to UMRBA for this purpose.  The first meeting of the Task Force and state administrators is scheduled for March 23-24, 2006.  UMRBA has retained consultants for this project, to assist in conducting research and providing background information on interstate water quality agencies in other parts of the country, including the 6 interstate commissions that receive funding under Section 106 of the Clean Water Act.  Holly Stoerker said that the results of this institutional inquiry could potentially affect the structure and functions of the UMRBA.  She expressed hope that UMRBA representatives and state water quality officials could work together closely on this project.

 

Todd Ambs said it is important for the states to answer the question of how best to coordinate their water quality efforts on the river.  He cautioned against an approach that would lead to a proliferation of organizations and meetings, similar to the situation in the Great Lakes.

 

Gretchen Benjamin asked about the relationship between UMRBA’s organizational options study and the National Research Council (NRC) panel that is looking at the Clean Water Act and the Mississippi River.  Stoerker explained that there are a number of similarities between the two efforts, both of which are being funded by the McKnight Foundation.  However, the NRC panel is looking at a wide variety of water quality issues, in addition to specific questions related to institutional mechanisms.  In addition, the NRC panel is charged with the entire Mississippi River, not just the upper river.

 

FY 2007 Federal Budget

 

Environmental Protection Agency —Bill Franz highlighted changes in the President’s FY 07 budget for EPA.  In particular, funding is proposed to increase slightly for Section 106 and the Safe Drinking Water SRF.  Funding is proposed to be cut $5 million for the Section 319 nonpoint program, $10 million for targeted watershed grants, and $200 million for the Clean Water SRF.  In addition, Section 104 funding is zeroed out in FY 07, as it was in FY 06.  Franz noted that EPA has used Section 104 funds to support the UMRBA Water Quality Task Force work in the past.

 

Franz also noted that funding for the water security monitoring pilot program is proposed to increase.  This is a potential source of support for the Lock and Dam 15 pilot early warning monitoring system.  He also reported that the Gulf of Mexico Program Office will be making a grant of approximately $100,000 to develop nutrient criteria in 2007 for the near shore areas of the Gulf.  This effort could result in a TMDL that would affect the entire Mississippi River.

 

In response to a question from Dru Buntin regarding targeted watershed grants, Franz said that in past years some of those grants have been for watersheds in the Upper Mississippi Basin.  In particular, at least one Missouri watershed and the Vermillion River watershed in Minnesota have received grants. 

 

U.S. Geological Survey — Mike Jawson reported that a 2 percent cut in USGS budget is proposed for FY 07.  The Biological Research budget will see increases in the hazards initiative and NatureServe, but decreases in the National Biological Information Infrastructure.  None of these changes will likely directly impact work on the UMR.  Within the USGS water resources program, cuts are proposed for the Water Resources Research Act program, the Cooperative Program, and NAWQA technical support.  However, the hazards initiative and streamgaging are slated for increases.

 

Jawson also described specific work efforts that are proposed to be new, continuing, or reduced at the Minnesota Water Science Center (Mounds View, Minnesota), Illinois Water Science Center (Urbana, Illinois), and the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (La Crosse, Wisconsin).

 

Gary Clark commented that the loss of stream gages is a particular problem.  In FY 06, the State of Illinois tried to pick up funding for stream gages that the Corps quit funding due to cuts in its O&M Budget.  The National Weather Service also uses these gages for flood forecasting.

 

Corps of Engineers — Susan Smith provided an overview of the Corps’ FY 07 proposed budget, noting that it emphasizes 1) projects with a high return on investment, 2) increased funding for the regulatory program, and 3) emergency preparedness and response.  She explained how each of the Corps’ budget accounts is affected by the budgetary principles, noting in particular that O&M costs are now organized in the budget by basin and that major rehabilitation work is now in the O&M account rather than the Construction account.  Smith also reported that the EMP is one of 6 construction projects that are considered to be “national priority projects.”  The EMP is proposed to be funded at $26.8 million in FY 07.  There is no funding proposed for NESP or the UMR Comprehensive Plan in the President’s budget. 

 

For MVD’s funding accounts more generally, Smith noted that MVD’s General Investigations budget is proposed to be $27.9 million in FY 07.  However, $25 million of that amount is for Coastal Louisiana.  MVD’s O&M funding appears to be significantly higher in FY 07 than in FY 06.  However, if the major rehabilitation work is subtracted, the FY 07 O&M budget is actually $14 million less than in FY 06.

 

In response to a question regarding NESP funding in FY 07, Chuck Spitzack explained that the Corps is prepared to continue PED work if funding is provided.  In addition, some projects could proceed to construction in FY 07 if both authorization and funding were provided.

 

Fish and Wildlife Service — Charlie Wooley reported that funding for Ecological Services and Refuges will remain essentially the same as last year.  However, Fisheries is slated for a slight cut.  According to Wooley, construction is not an Administration priority.  But there is support for North American Wetlands Conservation and state and tribal wildlife grants.

 

Wooley also described the spending levels specifically anticipated for Upper Mississippi River efforts in the Ecological Services Program, Refuges, and Fisheries Program.  He noted that, if additional funding is made available for Refuges, the priority would be land acquisition, especially on the Mark Twain Refuge, where there are willing sellers within the authorized refuge boundaries.

 

Wooley also described federal assistance to the Upper Mississippi River states through various grant programs, including boating access grants ($10 million in FY 05) and boating infrastructure grants ($2 million in FY 05).  In addition, Wooley noted the support which the Upper Mississippi River region receives through the Joint Ventures Program.

 

Natural Resources Conservation Service — Mike Sullivan said the overarching strategies in NRCS’s FY 07 budget include cooperative conservation, a watershed approach, and a market-based approach.  NRCS is slated for a decrease of $58 million in FY 07.  In general, discretionary funding is decreasing, while funding for mandatory programs is increasing.  Funding cuts are specifically proposed for conservation technical assistance, watershed and flood prevention operations, the watershed rehabilitation program, and the RC&D program.  EQIP funding will also decrease slightly.   However, the wetlands Reserve Program will increase by 100,000 acres, to a total of 250,000 acres.  The Conservation Security Program and Conservation Reserve Program are also proposed for budget increases. 

 

Sullivan closed by noting that NRCS staffing levels have remained relatively stable since 2000.  However, there is less support for basic conservation technical assistance and more emphasis instead on mandatory Farm Bill programs.  In addition, Congressional earmarks have increased significantly since 2000, further reducing flexibility in an already tight technical assistance program.

UMRBA Testimony on FY 07 Federal Budget — Holly Stoerker thanked all the federal agency representatives for their presentations and background information on the President’s FY 07 budget proposal.  She noted that the timeframe for developing and submitting testimony is particularly tight this year.  Testimony from outside witnesses on appropriations for EPA, Interior agencies (e.g., Fish and Wildlife and USGS), and the Corps of Engineers is due March 16.  To meet that deadline, Stoerker noted that UMRBA staff will send out draft testimony for review by March 8 and would ask that UMRBA members provide their comments and suggested revisions by March 14.

UMRBA Personnel Manual

Holly Stoerker explained that changes to UMRBA’s Manual of Personnel Practices are necessary to accommodate the option of part time employment.  She noted that an annotated version of the Manual, showing recommended changes, was transmitted to all UMRBA representatives and alternates in advance of the meeting.

 

Dru Buntin moved and Gary Clark seconded a motion to approve the changes to the Manual recommended by staff and reflected in the annotated version of the document.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

Election of Officers

Gary Clark nominated Mark Holsten for the position of UMRBA Chair. Dru Buntin seconded the nomination.

 

Martin Konrad nominated Dru Buntin for the position of UMRBA Vice Chair.  Gary Clark seconded the nomination.

 

After closing the nominations and moving approval of the slate of officers, Mark Holsten and Dru Buntin were unanimously elected as UMRBA Chair and Vice-Chair respectively.

 

Todd Ambs thanked the members and staff for an especially productive year.  He offered his assistance to the incoming new Chair.

 

Future Meeting Schedule

The next meetings of the Navigation Environmental Coordination Committee (NECC), EMP Coordinating Committee (EMP-CC), and UMRBA are scheduled for:

§          May 16-18, 2006 in Rock Island, Illinois

§          August 22-24, 2006 in La Crosse, Wisconsin

§          November 14-16, 2006 in the Twin Cities, Minnesota

 

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:55 pm.