Minutes of the

103rd Quarterly Meeting

of the

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association


August 21 2007

La Crosse, Wisconsin



The meeting was called to order at 9:35 a.m. by UMRBA Chair Mike Wells.  The following were present:


UMRBA Representatives and Alternates:


Gary Clark

Illinois (DNR)

Martin Konrad

Iowa (DNR)

John Hey

Iowa (DOT)

Tammy Nicholson

Iowa (DOT)

Tim Schlagenhaft

Minnesota (DNR)

Mike Wells

Missouri (DNR)

Dru Buntin

Missouri (DNR)

Gretchen Benjamin

Wisconsin (DNR)


Federal Liaisons:


Charles Barton

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Bill Franz

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 5)

Ken Lubinski

U.S. Geological Survey (UMESC)

Rick Nelson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (RIFO)

Mike Sullivan

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service


Others in attendance:


Colonel Robert Sinkler

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Rich Worthington

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (HQ)

Terry Smith

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVD)

Chuck Spitzack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Ken Barr

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Hank DeHaan

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Marvin Hubbell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Gary Loss

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVR)

Rich Astrack

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVS)

Don Powell

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Jeff DeZellar

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (MVP)

Scott Yess

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Karrie Jackelen

Congressman Ron Kind

Catherine McCalvin

The Nature Conservancy

Brad Walker

Prairie River Network (IL)

Tom Boland

MACTEC St. Louis

Dan McGuiness


Joseph Britt

Sand County Foundation

Mark Muller

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Holly Stoerker

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Dave Hokanson

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

Barb Naramore

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association



Martin Konrad introduced Tammy Nicholson and announced that she will be replacing John Hey as Iowa Department of Transportation’s representative to UMRBA.  John Hey will be retiring.


Meeting Minutes


Gretchen Benjamin moved and Gary Clark seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the May 22, 2007 quarterly meeting as drafted.  The motion was approved unanimously.


Executive Director’s Report


Holly Stoerker distributed copies of a table prepared by UMRBA staff summarizing the current status of FY 2008 appropriations for a variety of federal agencies.  She highlighted the following points:


Corps of Engineers — The President and House have both recommended $23.46 million for the EMP.  In contrast, the Senate has allocated only $18 million.  With regard to NESP, even though the President requested no funding, the House has recommended $2.2 million and the Senate has included $12 million in its bill.  This is the first time in recent years that the House has included funding for NESP.


Fish and Wildlife Service — Both the House and Senate are recommending increases over the President’s request for all the major budget accounts.


U.S. Geological Survey — Most USGS budget accounts are holding steady, with only a few relatively small increases being proposed by the House and Senate.


Environmental Protection Agency — The increases recommended by the House and Senate for the Clean Water Act SRF are not as large as in the past.  The House has recommended $25 million for the Targeted Watershed program, although the President and Senate have zeroed it out.


Department of Agriculture — Both the House and Senate are recommending increases for the watershed programs and conservation operations. 


Stoerker reported that on July 10, the House passed the “Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act” authorizing USGS sediment and nutrient monitoring and modeling.  Karrie Jackelen of Congressman Ron Kind’s office reported that Mr. Kind has talked with Senator Harkin about the possibility of sponsoring a Senate companion bill. 


Stoerker distributed copies of the Joint Governors’ statement regarding water quality, which was executed on August 2.  She noted that the statement is an outgrowth of the work of the UMRBA Water Quality Executive Committee.  It expresses support for the states’ coordinated activities through the UMRBA and urges EPA to also support the effort.


ICWP is working with a coalition of water resource, recreation, engineering, and environmental groups to urge the Administration to increase its support for USGS streamgaging in FY 09.  Stoerker asked if UMRBA would like to sign on to the coalition letter drafted by ICWP.  Martin Konrad moved and Gary Clark seconded a motion authorizing UMRBA’s name to be added to the August 15, 2007 draft letter to the Secretary of the Interior and OMB Director.  The motion passed unanimously.


Stoerker concluded her report by noting that UMRBA closed FY 2007 with positive net income, rather than the deficit that had been anticipated.  This was largely the combined result of income from the state assessments to support the water quality program and from expense reductions in some areas.


Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP)


WRDA Update — Holly Stoerker reported that the House had approved the WRDA conference report prior to adjourning for its August recess.  The Senate leadership has indicated that it will take up the conference report promptly upon return after Labor Day.  Stoerker also noted that all three of the amendments that UMRBA had been advocating in the conference process were, in fact, incorporated into the final agreement — namely, authorization of LTRMP monitoring, language related to collaboration and funding agreements, and flexibility on mooring facility locations.


Budget and Workplan Update — Chuck Spitzack reported that NESP is on target to fully execute on obligations in FY 07.  He presented draft FY 08 budgets for $10 million as well as $14 million levels.  However, he noted that the $14 million scenario is unlikely given the funding levels now being recommended by the House and Senate.


Reevaluation Interim Report — Spitzack reviewed the schedule for the Interim Report, which includes September 30 as the deadline for partner comments.  The draft report is targeted for release by December 31, 2007.  This will be followed by a two month public comment period and release of the final report by March 31, 2008.


Spitzack outlined the content of the Interim Report, including chapters describing a) the national transportation system; b) the inland waterway system; c) the traffic forecast and economic evaluation results using traditional national economic development (NED) analysis and multimodal NED considerations; and d) risks, conclusions and recommendations.  Spitzack also reviewed the draft conclusions and recommendations in the Interim Report, including:

§   Endorse dual-purpose recommended plan

§   Support additional provisions

§   Support efficient funding

§   Support coordination & collaboration

§   Support innovations

§   Support development of multimodal tools


In response to a question from Holly Stoerker, Spitzack explained that the results of the traditional economic analysis are not in the draft report yet and will not be released until they have been reviewed by the External Peer Review Panel.  However, he indicated that the results support the conclusions. 


Institutional Arrangements — Spitzack reported that the Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service will be meeting in October to renew their discussions regarding institutional arrangements, including issues related to gaining chain-of-command support, managing programs through adaptive management, and creating a collaborative environment.


Gretchen Benjamin, Bill Franz, and Dru Buntin expressed concern that discussions related to institutional arrangements appear to be confined to the Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service, rather than including all agency partners. Spitzack explained that when the institutional arrangements discussions were tabled last year, they were at a point where the co-chairs (Corps and FWS) needed to have more internal agency buy-in.  He expressed a commitment to reopen institutional arrangements deliberations to all parties after the Corps and FWS have had an opportunity to coordinate further.


Mike Wells asked how plans for a future River Council relate to the requirement in WRDA for an Advisory Panel addressing NESP ecosystem restoration.  Spitzack explained that the Advisory Panel could be separate from the River Council or accommodated within the NESP institutional arrangements that are now under development.  The approach will depend on how the issue is addressed in the WRDA guidance document following enactment.  Mike Wells commented that the states would like to be partners in shaping the approach to be used to satisfy the requirement for an Advisory Panel.


In response to a question on the status of the River Council, Spitzack indicated that it is on hold until NESP is authorized.  However, he commented that there is still a need to figure out how to move coordination and adaptive management forward at various levels using existing bodies.  The formal process of creating a River Council is the only institutional topic that is currently “off the table.”


Comments on Interim Report from Nicollet Island Coalition — Brad Walker, substituting for Mark Beorkrem, summarized the concerns that environmental groups have with the Interim Report.  In particular, Walker emphasized the lack of opportunities for input and collaboration on development of the scenarios and interaction with the External Peer Review (EPR) Panel.  Although a conference call was scheduled in July to discuss the scenarios, by that time, they had already been set.  Walker also said that the input provided by the environmental community has largely been ignored by the Corps. 


Chuck Spitzack commented that the EPR Panel has purposefully been kept separate from the study team so that their input is more meaningful.  The workshops were opportunities for stakeholders and the EPR Panel to interact.


UMRBA Comments on Interim Report — Mike Wells noted that the Economic Reevaluation was requested by the Administration and not the states.  Yet the states have had opportunity for input, including the opportunity now to comment on the draft report.  Chuck Spitzack indicated that the deadline for comments is September 30, 2007.


Gretchen Benjamin moved to:


Direct UMRBA Staff to develop a draft letter of comment on the August 14, 2007 draft Interim Report (i.e., Re-Evaluation of the Recommended Plan:  UMR-IWW System Navigation Study).  The draft, which will emphasize the Governors’ previous statement concerning the recommended plan, should be provided to the UMRBA Board for review by September 14, with a conference call to follow, if necessary, to discuss and reconcile members’ comments.


Martin Konrad seconded the motion, which then passed unanimously.


NESP and EMP Integration


Barb Naramore provided an overview of the issue of NESP and EMP integration, including UMRBA’s past conclusions and efforts to address the issue.  In particular, she noted that there is significant overlap between the ecosystem restoration components of EMP and NESP and that the Administration and Congress are unlikely to support both programs in the long term.  Over a year ago, UMRBA staff prepared a series of “issue papers” describing the major topics and options associated with the question of how NESP and EMP might be merged.  Those papers served as the basis for discussion among the partnership and resulted in UMRBA’s successful pursuit of two amendments to the NESP authorization in WRDA. 


Naramore noted that WRDA 2007 is currently pending and the Administration has been budgeting for EMP, but not for NESP.  While Congress typically has been funding both program, that will not likely continue indefinitely, once WRDA passes.  In addition, implementation of the two programs has been largely independent, although there are some efforts to coordinate and Secretary Woodley has recently asked the Corps for information on the relationship between the two programs.


Naramore asked how UMRBA would like to address NESP-EMP integration issues moving forward.  She suggested that UMRBA may want to address itself to questions of timing, coordination, priorities and assumptions.


Chuck Spitzack clarified that the Corps’ response to Secretary Woodley’s request will not offer recommendations or an integration strategy, but rather will be strictly informational regarding NESP and EMP.


Mike Wells said that UMRBA has been very proactive in the past regarding the relationship between the EMP and NESP.  He commented that UMRBA does not want to lose this momentum and wants to ensure a smooth transition between the two programs.


Gary Clark offered the following motion:

That the UMRBA staff be directed to consult with state EMP-CC and NECC members and UMRBA Board in drafting a states’ vision for the future of the EMP and the NESP ecosystem restoration authority, including a strategy for transition and integration.  The UMRBA Board will take final action on the vision, with a target date of September 28 for Board approval.  The vision will be transmitted to ASA Woodley, with copies to OMB, leadership of key Congressional authorizing and appropriating committees, and the Governors’ Washington D.C. offices.  In addition to consulting with individual members of the EMP-CC, NECC, and UMRBA Board, UMRBA staff should schedule a coordination conference call, if necessary, in developing the draft vision.


Gretchen Benjamin seconded the motion, which was then approved unanimously.


Ken Lubinski commented that development of a transition report seems like a large undertaking that would be difficult to accomplish by September 28.  Gary Clark said that the timeline will dictate the breadth and depth of the statement.  He also emphasized that it is intended to be a broad vision and not a detailed plan.  Clark said he assumed it will address the future of LTRMP, as well as how habitat projects move from EMP to NESP.


Mike Wells indicated that development of the UMRBA vision statement would be consistent with the discussions and thinking UMRBA has had over the past two years.  Dru Buntin commented that it is risky not to have a clearly articulated transition strategy.


Gretchen Benjamin said the states would have liked to work with the Corps in developing a response to Woodley’s request regarding the relationship between EMP and NESP, but instead will need to move ahead.


Catherine McCalvin acknowledged that the vision statement would be a UMRBA product and action, but urged that the input of others also be considered.


State Financing of Cost Shared Ecosystem Restoration Projects


Representatives from each state provided a brief overview of how their state funds the nonfederal share of cost-shared ecosystem restoration projects.


Wisconsin — Gretchen Benjamin reported that Wisconsin allocates approximately $125,000 from gas tax revenues each biennium for EMP projects.  Those funds can be encumbered or can build up over time.  This arrangement was established with EMP in mind, but has been used for other Mississippi River projects, such as the pre-drawdown study.  In addition Wisconsin DNR can use the State Stewardship Fund for land acquisition.  This fund, which is authorized at $64 million per year, is currently up for reauthorization.  


Iowa — Martin Konrad indicated that Iowa has no special funding sources for habitat projects, which are handled instead on a case-by-case basis.  The two primary funding options are the fish and wildlife trust account, funded from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, and the Iowa marine fuel tax fund.  In addition, Iowa sometimes partners with Audubon or other NGOs to provide the nonfederal cost share.


Illinois — Gary Clark said Illinois is a very active cost share partner on EMP projects, with $6.7 million committed to date.  There are currently two new capital programs proposed in Illinois.  The current capital budget includes $4 million for EMP and there is the potential for an additional $2 million.  In response to a question from Stoerker, Clark explained that the appropriations bill specifies the program for which the funding match can be used.  In the case of the pending funds, EMP is specified.  If funds were to be used for NESP, the appropriations language would need to change.


Minnesota — Tim Schlagenhaft explained that Minnesota has no funding source dedicated to EMP projects.  However, it does have a $10 million statewide capital land acquisition fund.  In addition, it may be possible to utilize funding from the Clean Water Legacy Act for habitat restoration identified in TMDLs, such as the one under development for Lake Pepin.


Missouri — Janet Sternberg explained that Missouri’s primary source of revenue for the Department of Conservation is a 1/8 of 1 percent state sales tax.  In addition, some funding comes from the sale of hunting and fishing permits.  However, there is no funding devoted specifically to EMP or NESP.  Although Missouri cost-shared one large EMP project in the mid-1990s, more recently, projects on General Plan (GP) lands are being targeted.


Dru Buntin said that Missouri DNR receives part of the state sales tax to support state parks.  However, funding for acquisition is very limited and generally limited to lands adjacent to existing holdings.  While there is a state parks foundation, it would not be very helpful for funding projects on the UMR, given that there are few state parks on the Mississippi River.


Prospects for Establishing State UMR Accounts — Dan McGuiness described Audubon’s interest in partnering with others to protect UMR habitats.  In particular, Audubon has identified important bird areas (IBA) in all 10 states along the Mississippi River.  The land ownership patterns differ widely among the IBAs, making conservation and protection challenging.


McGuiness noted that, after discussing state funding strategies with each state, he realized that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to state cost sharing.  Thus he has ruled out from further consideration his initial idea of establishing a UMR habitat cost-share account in each state.  However, McGuiness offered a number of alternative approaches for further evaluation:

§   Work with each state to identify where cost shared projects can help meet important goals and then develop state-by-state strategies to develop EMP or NESP projects to meet those needs

§   Work at the project level to build support and find financial resources

§   Work through the EMP and NESP project selection process to make sure cost shared projects are given consideration and funding


In response to a question, McGuiness indicated that Audubon does not necessarily have a preference for whether it cost shares directly with the Corps or through a state.  However, there is more of a history partnering through states. 


Upper Mississippi River Basin Integration in the Rock Island District


Hank DeHaan described the Rock Island District’s Basin Integration Initiative, which is designed to coordinate Corps projects throughout individual basins within MVR, as well as coordinate those projects with programs and projects by other agencies.  In contrast to current systemwide efforts on the UMRS, this initiative seeks to develop better linkages between floodplain needs and what the Corps and others are doing in the basin. 


DeHaan explained that in the Rock Island District, there are five basins:  Skunk/Des Moines Rivers, Iowa/Cedar Rivers, Upper Mississippi River, Rock River, and Illinois River.  Each basin has an assigned “Integrator,” whose responsibilities include keeping track of all the projects in the basin, developing a basin stakeholder database, identifying opportunities for better coordination, and facilitating interagency basin meetings.  Maps and fact sheets showing all the projects in each basin are under development. 


Colonel Sinkler said the Corps is trying to take the lessons learned from the Illinois River and apply them elsewhere in the District.  According to Sinkler, the Integration Initiative will enable the Corps to make better collective decisions and allocate resources across business lines.


In response to a question from Tim Schlagenhaft, DeHaan said the initiative will reach beyond the Corps, but will focus on how Corps authority can be used to help the collective team in the basin.


UMR Comprehensive Plan


Rich Astrack provided an overview of the completion tasks for the Comprehensive Plan, including the recommendations that emerged related to levee reconstruction and critical transportation infrastructure.  He also explained that a risk informed decision framework (RIDF) will be used to provide additional evaluation of the plan alternatives.  RIDF, which was developed and applied by ERDC to Hurricane Katrina and Rita recovery, helps to overcome science uncertainties and value differences among stakeholders.  It reaches beyond the traditional national economic development (NED) analysis.  Astrack explained, by use of a hypothetical example, how RIDF displays tradeoffs among objectives and explicitly considers the risks and uncertainties associated with each alternative. 


Astrack said that the Comprehensive Plan Collaboration Team will be meeting with ERDC representatives in early September to apply RIDF.  It will all be done at the meeting site with computer terminals for each team member.  Tim Schlagenhaft said that MN DNR would not likely be able to attend the Collaboration Team meeting, but asked if they could send input on the weighting and metrics.  Astrack said he would look into it.


2007 Farm Bill: Upper Mississippi River Provisions


Joe Britt of the Sand County Foundation reported that the House version of the 2007 Farm Bill includes authorization of a Regional Water Enhancement Program (RWEP), which gives special priority to the Upper Mississippi River Basin, as well as the Klamath River, the Everglades, and the Chesapeake Bay. Britt indicated that his organization has no objection to the House provision, but that the UMR Discovery Watershed Program, which they are advocating, would be difficult to implement within the constraints of RWEP.  They will be looking to modify the approach and increase the authorized funding in the Senate version.  Britt emphasized that the proposed Discovery Watershed Program is based on strong farmer involvement and on evaluating the efficacy of the conservation measures and management practices employed in each watershed.  It focuses on nutrient management in 11-digit HUC watersheds and on-farm research.  He also indicated that, because of their nutrient contributions to the Gulf of Mexico, Indiana and Ohio may be added to the UMR states that would be included in the program.


Tim Schlagenhaft asked why Minnesota is not mentioned as part of the program in the House Committee report on the Farm Bill, but is noted on the Discovery Watershed fact sheet.  Britt explained that there have been some disagreements among commodity and environmental groups in Minnesota about the merits of the program.  He also noted that Congressman Kagen of Wisconsin is a supporter of the proposal because it applies to the entirety of the states in the basin, not just the geographic area of the basin.


Mike Sullivan explained that the RWEP was originally proposed by the Bush Administration.  However, the Administration’s proposal did not give priority to any specific basins, as the House Farm Bill does.  The USDA proposal would fund the RWEP at $175 million from EQIP, allocated on a grant basis.  Martin Konrad asked whether USDA envisions a committee structure for allocating the funding.  Sullivan indicated that those decisions have not yet been made, but the grants would likely be awarded competitively. 


Catherine McCalvin reported that the Nature Conservancy (TNC) is also promoting a new national floodplain reserve program in the 2007 Farm Bill.  She explained that 10 percent of the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) funding would be eligible for this new program, which would target floodplains behind levees for reconnection, while allowing compatible economic uses.  It would be based on 10-30 year or permanent easements.  McCalvin noted that it is designed as a national program, but that the UMR would be a good candidate for a pilot.


McCalvin said there is a version of TNC proposal in the House Farm Bill, but it is limited to 10,000 acres.  TNC is working with Senators Harkin and Durbin to seek inclusion in the Senate version of the Farm Bill. 


Early Warning Monitoring Network


Dave Hokanson summarized the concept of the early warning monitoring network (EWMN), the role that UMRBA has played in its development, and the challenges related to its future.  As discussed at the May 2007 UMRBA meeting, a lead entity is needed for the effort if it is to make progress.  However, EPA funding under the Oil Pollution Act, which has been used to support UMRBA’s coordination role for the EWMN, will likely be coming to an end after FY 07.  Hokanson noted that UMRBA staff has outlined four options for UMRBA’s future role regarding the EWMN, in response to the Board’s request at its May 2007 meeting.


Hokanson added that, since the May 2007 meeting, there have been two additional developments:  1) OPA funding has decreased overall and 2) the UMRBA Water Quality Executive Committee has indicated that the EWMN is not a priority for them, in so far as they are focusing on interstate aspects of Clean Water Act implementation.


In response to a question from Ken Lubinski, Hokanson explained that the focus of the EWMN is on petroleum and related contaminants and on operational concerns of water utilities.  Lubinski commented that a consortium of UMR universities is developing a proposal for a “hydrologic observatory,” which, in combination with the proposal by Congressman Kind for nutrient and sediment monitoring, may offer some possibilities in the future.


Martin Konrad moved that UMRBA phase out its EWMN leadership efforts effective September 30, 2007, but assist in the transition to another entity.  Gretchen Benjamin seconded the motion, which then passed unanimously.


UMRBA Sponsored Meetings


Holly Stoerker reported that the Clean Water Act-Ecosystem Restoration Workshops, which had originally been scheduled for this fall, need to be postponed due to delays in receiving the grant funding from U.S. EPA.  The tentative rescheduled dates are April 16-17 and June 11-12, 2008.  The workshops, which will involve panel presentations, case studies, and small group discussions, will be held in Dubuque, Iowa.  Approximately 60 attendees are anticipated, including a variety of agencies, management levels, and disciplines.


Stoerker also reported that UMRBA and the Interstate Council on Water Policy (ICWP) will be co‑sponsoring a meeting for USGS water program cooperators in the basin on November 1-2, 2007.  This will be the third in a series of regional roundtables across the country, the first two being in California and the Southeast.  The focus will be on the streamgaging network, as well as cooperative studies.


Miscellaneous Announcements

§  Mike Wells recognized John Hey’s contributions to UMRBA and the Navigation Study.  Martin Konrad said Hey will be retiring next month and plans to golf, bike, and fish.  He thanked Hey for his help when Konrad began his assignment to UMRBA.

§  Ken Lubinski announced that a proposal is under development for a UMR fish habitat partnership as part of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.  USGS and the Fish and Wildlife Service are working on the proposal and would like other partners to participate.  He said he would be sending UMRBA a draft letter in support of the UMR candidacy and would invite UMRBA to sign on as a collaborator.

§  Rich Worthington highlighted two areas of change in the Corps of Engineers water resources program — risk-based decision making and basin integration.  He explained that the impetus for these new approaches is the Corps’ experience with Hurricane Katrina. 


UMRBA Budget Amendment


Holly Stoerker distributed copies of a staff proposal for revisions to the UMRBA’s FY 2008 budget.  She explained that the amendment reflects anticipated changes in both revenue and expenses associated with the Clean Water Act-Ecosystem Restoration workshops, the USGS Cooperators’ Roundtable, OPA equipment purchases, Iowa dues and travel reimbursement, and state assessments to support UMRBA’s water quality program.  Stoerker noted that the net effect of the proposed changes will be to increase net income from roughly $16,000 to $45,000.  [Note: Following the meeting, discovery of a math error revealed that the new net income will be $55,000 rather than $45,000.]


Tim Schlagenhaft moved approval of the FY 2007 budget revision proposed by staff.  Martin Konrad seconded the motion, which then passed unanimously.


Future Quarterly Meetings


Holly Stoerker announced the November 2007 quarterly meetings in St. Paul will involve the following sequence:

November 13 — UMRBA Board planning meeting and meeting with Water Quality Executive Committee in the morning, followed by the regular UMRBA Quarterly Meeting in the afternoon.

November 14 — UMRBA Water Quality Executive Committee and NECC/ECC meet concurrently

November 15 — EMP Coordinating Committee Meeting 


The dates and locations for other future meetings include:

§  February 19-22, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri, with the 19th being reserved for a Board meeting, if needed, followed on the 20th by the UMRBA quarterly meeting.  EMP-CC will be on the 21st and NECC-ECC on the 22nd.

§  May 20-22, 2008 in the Quad Cities with the following order:  UMRBA, NECC-ECC, and EMP-CC.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:00 p.m.