Revisiting the Flood Zone – Impact Surveyed by Senators and Guests
Game and Parks Commission Conservation Officer Jon Reeves had a conversation with Senator Lydia Brasch last year, encouraging her to accompany him on a boat tour of flood damaged areas. Senator Brasch agreed and rode along to view the impact of the flood.
Senator Brasch and Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas were sharing a conversation at the May Commission meeting, and Douglas asked about her experience viewing the flooded areas and whether she might be interested in following up her previous trek with some additional information about the Missouri River and the flood. Brasch was very interested and Douglas promptly put her in contact with Gerald Mestl, a Game and Parks Fish and Wildlife Program Manager in charge of the Missouri River Program. Mestl offered to take her and Reeves back out on a boat tour to survey some of the effects of the flood and provide some background and educational information on flood ecology and the Missouri River Program’s role on the river. Mestl encouraged Brasch to invite additional guests on the tour. Brasch invited a small group of business and political leaders, in addition to Commissioner Mick Jensen.
Mestl’s tour left Decatur on July 3, 2012 and the entourage boated and floated 9 miles downstream. While the group listened and observed the habitat and ecology along the river, Reeves and Mestl discussed specific topics of interest to the group. They answered questions about the history of the channelized river, the authorized purposes for river management, the 2011 flood, law enforcement’s role, endangered species and the native fish community, NGPC’s Missouri River Program’s monitoring and research projects, and habitat restoration efforts on the river.
The group discussed the program’s position in that they will not be able to reverse the declines in native species, recover endangered species and increase public use on the Missouri River with the constraints imposed by the current design of the navigation channel. Commissioner Jensen suggested conducting additional informative boat tours, involving more community and business leaders as well as the local news media in order to bring additional awareness to the situation.