Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration

Developing and implementing effective planning strategies for the Missouri River.

2011 - 2014
Multi-State Area Along the Missouri River
United States Army Corp of Engineers (Subcontractor to Louis Berger)

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America and hosts a wide variety of interests including social, economic, historical, and cultural. Uses of the river include agriculture, commerce, conservation, energy, environmental, natural resources, navigation, recreation, residential, urban uses, and water supply. As a result, the Missouri River ecosystem has seen the following significant impacts:

  • Three million acres of natural river habitat have been altered
  • Approximately 51 of 67 native fish species are now rare, uncommon, or decreasing
  • Cottonwoods (historically the dominant floodplain tree) have largely ceased in reproduction
  • Aquatic insects (a key link in the food chain) have been reduced by 70 percent.

The recovery program seeks to replace lost habitat and protect threatened-and-endangered species (e.g., Pallid Sturgeon, Least Tern, and Piping Plover) resulting from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USCACE) projects to improve the Missouri River. The USACE manages the river and the recovery program in coordination with 15 federal agencies, 8 state governments, 29 tribes, and several local governments and stakeholders. RESPEC supported multiple planning studies for the Missouri River and served on the project management and project delivery teams for developing and implementing effective planning strategies. The studies included work in ecosystem restoration, adaptive management, and reviewing the Authorized Purposes Section of the Flood Control Act of 1944 that led to constructing several dams on the river and named specific uses of the river and reservoirs. RESPEC also provided assistance with tribal consultation for ensuring compliance with National Environmental Policy Act principles, including transparency and engagement of tribes at all appropriate levels.