[audubon-news] Audubon Supports Army Engineers Integrated Mississippi Restoration Plan

  • From: "BIANCHI, John" <JBIANCHI@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <Audubon-news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 13:47:31 -0500

Contact: Dan McGuiness
651-739-9332 (office)
651-260-6260 (cell)
Dmcguiness@xxxxxxxxxxx

AUDUBON SUPPORTS ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS' EFFORT TO BUILD THE FIRST-EVER 
INTEGRATED MISSISSIPPI RIVER RESTORATION PLAN

Upper Mississippi River Campaign Director Dan McGuiness to Testify in Support 
of $10-Billion Restoration Package Tonight at Hearing in Bloomington, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota, Tuesday, October 28, 2003 - The National Audubon 
Society today announced its support for a 10 billion-dollar package to restore 
more than 750,000 acres of habitat on the Upper Mississippi River during the 
next 25 to 50 years.  If approved, the package could be the centerpiece of the 
Army Corps of Engineers first-ever integrated plan for Mississippi River 
management.

The ecosystem restoration package favored by Audubon is one of six alternatives 
that will be presented tonight at a meeting in Bloomington, Minnesota sponsored 
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  This hearing is one of seven sessions the 
Corps has been holding during the last two weeks along the river in places from 
St. Louis, Missouri to the Twin Cities.  The Corps is working to obtain public 
feedback on six navigation projects and six ecosystem restoration projects. 

In the next six months, the Corps will combine selected projects from each list 
to create this first integrated plan for river management.  "We have before us 
an unprecedented opportunity to stem the tide of 150 years of habitat 
degradation and significantly improve bird, fish and other wildlife habitat on 
the Upper Mississippi River," said Audubon's Chief Operating Officer Bob 
Perciasepe from his office in Washington, DC.

At the hearing this evening, Dan McGuiness, Director of Audubon's Upper 
Mississippi River Campaign, will testify in support of what the Corps of 
Engineers calls "Ecosystem Restoration Alternative E", which calls for a 
package of 1,202 restoration projects that would be completed over the next 50 
years. 

"Audubon supports 'Restoration Alternative E', the product of five years 
collaboration that includes recommendations we made in 2000 for a sustainable 
Mississippi with restored or improved natural physical and biological 
processes." said McGuiness.  "We are pleased that after decades of 
environmental degradation from the impacts of navigation and flood control 
projects, restoration and protection of the Upper Mississippi River are finally 
considered to be of equal if not greater importance.  Now we must make sure the 
Corps and Congress follow through and deliver."

Audubon also commented on the Corps' navigation alternatives, recommending that 
the Corps and Congress implement low-cost, near-term navigation efficiency 
improvements as it continues to improve its capability to make longer-term 
traffic and demand forecasts.

Audubon expressed support for an integrated resource management plan that 
recognizes the river's national significance as both a natural area and a 
transportation route.  "Both the ecosystem and the navigation system are in 
need of repair, but it is the ecosystem that has suffered most in the last 
century.  That is where we need to do the most urgent work," McGuiness 
continued.

Over the next six months Audubon will continue to help craft and support a 
strong ecosystem restoration component for the draft and final report, which 
will be back before the public in May, 2004 and finalized in October 2004 by 
the Chief of Engineers.

The Upper Mississippi River is home and habitat for 40% of North America's 
waterfowl, a flyway for 326 bird species, aquatic habitat for 260 fish species, 
and 36 federal-listed or candidate species of rare, threatened or endangered 
plants and animals.  It is also the basis for $6.6 billion in annual spending 
by people for whom hunting, fishing, boating, or bird and wildlife watching 
along the river is a primary recreation.  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa 
and Missouri manage more than 297,000 acres of land and water between them as 
part of our National Wildlife Refuge System, and an additional 180,000 acres.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat 
that supports them.  Our national network of community-based nature centers and 
chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas 
sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages 
and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

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