Evaluating Investment in Missouri River Restoration: The Missouri River Effects Analysis
Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:40 PM
In excess of $700 million has been spent over the last 10 years on restoration of the Missouri River. During this time, restoration efforts have focused progressively on avoidance of jeopardy for three threatened or endangered species: interior least tern (Sternula antillarum), piping plover (Charadrius melodus), and the pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus). In 2013, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Missouri River stakeholders (through the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee) commissioned an Effects Analysis (EA; Murphy and Weiland, 2011) to evaluate the effects of this effort on the three species’ populations and to project effects of future restoration. The EA includes synthesis of existing abiotic and biotic scientific information relating to species population processes, distributions, and habitat needs, as well as development of conceptual and quantitative models linking river context to its management and to species’ responses. The EA also includes design of the next generation of hypothesis-driven science to support adaptive management of the species and the river. The Missouri River EA faces the challenge of evaluating how management of North America’s largest reservoir storage system, 600 km of non-channelized mainstem, and nearly 1,200 km of channelized mainstem contribute to species’ population dynamics. To support EA needs, the US Army Corps of Engineers is developing a new generation of reservoir simulation and routing models for the Missouri River basin, coupled with components to evaluate ecological and socio-economic metrics. The EA teams are developing coordinated models relating management to functional habitats and species’ responses. A particular challenge faced by the EA is communicating the very different uncertainties in population dynamics between well-documented birds and the enigmatic fish, and the implications of this disparity in decision making, implementation, and adaptive management strategies.