Its coin of the realm echoes the heroes, history and hard work of a region integral to the development and settlement of the West. Where once this frontier fired the imagination of Thomas Jefferson and tested the resourcefulness of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, its 21 st century challenges are answered today by the nearly 5,000 hardy spirits of the Northwestern Division.
The territory explored by Lewis and Clark remains awesome in its geographical breadth, economic, political and cultural diversity. Nearly 2,000 miles wide, present-day Northwestern Division envelops 14 states, 48 Congressional districts and more than 90 sovereign tribal nations, making it the largest of the Corps' eight division offices. Two of the country’s longest rivers – the Missouri and Columbia – drain nearly one million square miles within its boundaries that stretch from Seattle to St. Louis. Its civil works, military, and environmental programs surpass $3 billion annually.
The formation of the new Northwestern Division was a long time coming. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began to take a hard look at its missions, capabilities, customers, workforce and funding projections. After lengthy study and review, Congress passed legislation reducing the number of division offices.
For purposes of geographical balance, regional interface and similarity of issues, the North Pacific and Missouri River divisions were officially realigned and combined into one division in April 1997. Division headquarters offices were lodged in Portland, Oregon, with a regional headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Northwestern Division Commander and Division Engineer directs all USACE activities in this area - containing more than one-quarter of the nation’s land mass - providing direction and guidance for five subordinate district offices, each headed by a military officer and military deputy, located in Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Walla Walla, Washington. The Division office also oversees the upward coordination of technical policy and budgetary issues that cross district boundaries and interfaces with other Federal and state agencies, congressional leaders, key stakeholders and international commissions.
The Northwestern Division, as all other USACE divisions, is organized to manage its districts’ civil works activities based on river basins rather than state boundaries. Its primary civil works missions encompass flood damage reduction, navigation, hydropower, fish and wildlife, water quality, irrigation, recreation, and disaster response. Within its jurisdiction are 77 dams and reservoirs, 29 hydropower plants, and 1,600 miles of navigable channels.
Military boundaries, in contrast, are organized along state lines. Major military programs include providing design and construction support to 55 major Army and Air Force installations and dozens of smaller ones. Northwestern Division also manages more than two million acres of military real estate for the Department of Defense.
An Environmental, Interagency and International Services program provides environmental restoration and cleanup of hazardous, toxic, and radioactive sites for the military, Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal agencies. In recent years, Northwestern Division volunteers have stepped to the forefront in support of the Overseas Contingency Operations and the Global War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, lending their skills to the reconstruction efforts.
While USACE districts have civil works and military missions, they are frequently distinguished by the nature and amount of civil or military work they perform. In Northwestern Division, the districts that have a preponderance of military and environmental work are Kansas City, Omaha, and Seattle. The Portland and Walla Walla districts tend to have larger civil works programs. In all cases and from all quarters, the five Northwestern Division districts consistently achieve top marks for mission execution, customer satisfaction, and quality products.
As you explore our website, discover first hand why the men and women of the “Lewis and Clark Division” lead the vanguard of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.