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Court rules in favor of Corps over Missouri River



Lincoln, Neb. – A federal appeals court on Tuesday sided with the Corps of Engineers in the ongoing battle over the Missouri River.

The corps' new management plan keeps the river high enough in summer to accommodate barge traffic.

The ruling is a loss for conservation groups, who oppose higher summer flows because they say they endanger certain birds and fish. But the court affirmed that the corps was within its powers to set the regulation.

The fishing and recreation industries in upstream states also oppose the plan, because it requires releasing water into the river from storage reservoirs, where boating and other activities are a draw.

Farming and shipping groups in downstream states say returning to the ebb-and-flow pattern would cause flooding and end barge traffic.


Meanwhile, some Missouri lawmakers want Gov. Matt Blunt to add the future of the Missouri River to the agenda for a special session next month.

State Senator Bill Stouffer has a family farm near the river in the town of Napton, just outside Marshall. He worries about flooding under the Corps' plan to raise the Missouri's level in the spring. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has required the Corps to release more water from upstream reservoirs into the river, to help the spawning of an endangered fish.

Stouffer wants legislators to pass a resolution encouraging the governor and attorney general to seek a court order blocking the spring rise.

The special session is expected to begin September 6, one week before the annual veto session.


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