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. # # # You are subscribed to Audubon-News. To unsubscribe, send email to audubon-news-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, http://www.freelists.org/list/audubon-news.