Gov. Jay Nixon is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop work on a Missouri River project thats designed to help an endangered fish species.
The Associated Press
In a letter to Assistant Army Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy, Nixon said the corps needs to obtain independent findings that shallow-water habitat projects will help the pallid sturgeon and wont cause harm. Until that happens, Nixon said last week, the corps should discontinue work at Jameson Island near the village of Arrow Rock and not begin work on similar projects.
The corps only recently awarded a $3.5 million contract for the Jameson Island project after a six-year hold- up. Concerns and delays stem from the corps plans to put much of the dirt excavated to create the new habitat into the river. The corps and environmental groups say researchers have determined the soil dumping wont cause trouble and note the pallid sturgeon evolved to live in large, silt-filled rivers.
But farm groups fear that putting the fertilizer-laden soil into the river would contribute to a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Experts blame the low-oxygen, or hypoxic, conditions primarily on farm fertilizer runoff brought by the Mississippi River, into which the Missouri River empties. The nutrients cause oxygen-depleting algae blooms.
The Jameson Island project is part of the corps effort to re-create about 20 percent of the approximately 100,000 acres of shallow-water habitat that disappeared when the river was dammed and straightened and its channel narrowed. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered the corps to undertake the habitat effort because the pallid sturgeon population has dwindled.