OMAHA, N --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing comments received regarding the draft Missouri River Recovery Management Plan-Environmental Impact Statement as it moves toward preparing a final EIS which is anticipated to be released in summer 2018.
“Public comments are a crucial element in developing the final EIS and record of decision,” said Maj. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, commanding general, Northwestern Division, USACE. “We want to know the Missouri River Basin residents’ thoughts and concerns about our preferred alternative. We take all the comments we received seriously and will use them in shaping the final EIS and record of decision.”
The draft EIS examined alternative ways to manage the Missouri River Recovery Program to meet the Corps’ obligations under the Endangered Species Act for the river’s threatened and endangered species – the pallid sturgeon, interior least tern, and piping plover – while allowing the Corps to operate the river for the benefit of residents and businesses who depend on the river.
The Corps received approximately 450 comments on the draft EIS via public meetings, mail, and online comment forms. Comments were received from members of the public, businesses, non-governmental and civic organizations, Federal, state and local governments, and Tribal governments. The public comment period ran from Dec. 26, 2016, through April 24, 2017. The Corps is continuing its ongoing Government-to-Government consultations with Native American Tribes throughout the process.
The final EIS will include a comment response report index that will state how the Corps addressed the comments in the EIS. Overall themes of the comments will be shared at the next Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee meeting Aug. 8-10, 2017, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Omaha Downtown. MRRIC is the congressionally authorized stakeholder involvement group that advises the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the MRRP. MRRIC meetings are open to the public.
While the Corps is reviewing the public comments, it is also conducting Government-to-Government consultation with Native American Tribes and is consulting with the USFWS to develop the Biological Assessment for formal Endangered Species Act Consultation. Due to ongoing consultation, it is too early to know how this process will impact the final EIS. After receiving the Biological Assessment, the USFWS will prepare a Biological Opinion. After USFWS issues its final Biological Opinion, the Corps will issue a final EIS and Record of Decision with its selected alternative. The Record of Decision is expected in the summer of 2018.