Dick Iverson and Buzz Mattelin attended the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) plenary session May 21 – 23 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, serving as representatives of Richland and Roosevelt Conservation Districts. Iverson and Mattelin had both previously served as stakeholder representatives on the Committee but were attending this meeting to represent the interests of irrigators and agriculture producers in the area below Fort Peck dam to the Yellowstone River Confluence.
Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC) serves as a national forum where people with diverse interests in the Missouri River basin can collaborate on recommendations for implementing the Missouri River Recovery Program. The plan, which was given final approval in 2018, is meant to provide a pathway for the recovery of three endangered species, which includes two bird species and the pallid sturgeon.
Iverson and Mattelin were appointed to serve on the committee’s Human Consideration Work Group where they are deeply involved with the Army Corps proposal to implement test flows out of Fort Peck meant to increase recruitment of the endangered Pallid Sturgeon up the Missouri River to the Fort Peck dam. Their involvement with the work group and presentation to the full MRRIC group resulted in the Corps modifying their test flow proposal to best accommodate the interests of irrigators who use the more than 150 pump sites between the dam and Yellowstone River confluence.
Following Army Corps public outreach meetings at Fort Peck and Williston earlier this year, a concerted effort was made to involve local irrigators, Conservation Districts, landowners and Montana agency representatives from Montana FWP and DNRC, in the public comment process. As a result of those efforts and the involvement of Mattelin, Iverson and Taylor Twiest (all of whom serve on the MRRIC Human Considerations work group), the Corps increased their minimum low flow projections during those key irrigation months in July and August.
Conservation districts and local irrigators will need to maintain their engagement during this process and work with their local conservation districts to ensure the viability of using water resources for farmland irrigation.