Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey Sees the need to Re-Evaluate the 1944 Pick-Sloan Flood Control Act

Bob Kerrey is exactly right. Wildlife habitat and biodiversity along the Missouri River is more important to Nebraska's economy and aesthetics than the minimal navigation provided by the currently unnatural, ditched, sterile, polluted, bleak appearance of the Corps controlled river. A more natural river in this region would be a huge ecological asset to the states of Nebraska and Iowa.

In this ten minute video from Market Journal, the agricultural show out of the Univ. of Nebraska, Dan Moser interviews former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey about Missouri River legislation from 1944.

Kerrey feels that the Pick-Sloan Flood Control Act of 1944 is outdated and that the legislation greatly impacted Nebraska, yet though it is most important, it's least debated, even with the recent flooding. Kerrey says . . .
...our needs are much different today than in 1944 when Pick-Sloan was enacted. ... the farther south you go on the river, the more navigation and flood control becomes your dominant concern whereas the farther north you go what you're concerned about is irrigation and recreation and you don't want to release too much water otherwise your lake levels will go down and your fisheries will be in trouble.

Kerrey asks, "How much navigation do we really need?" Since there is very little barge traffic from Sioux City to St. Joseph, Missouri, that navigation effort has done a huge amount of damage to wildlife habitat. Now, doing away with maintaining barge traffic in this section of the river could greatly enhance the tourism economy in Nebraska and restore the wildlife habitat.

This year, the largest amount of water flowed through the Missouri River since 1898 and the Nebraska Farm Bureau estimates the damage was $189 million from the spring flooding.

As a result of the Pick-Sloan 1944 Act signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 20% of the land which transferred ownership was from Native Americans to the Corps of Engineers.

On a related note, on January 19-21 in Kansas City, there is a Missouri Governor's Conference on Agriculture which will discuss river flooding. It will feature more than 40 state and national speakers. On January 21 there will be a panel discussion about the future of agriculture along Missouri's rivers.