Missouri River Restoration and Recovery


This website constitutes an historical record of the MRRIC Charter Planning Group Process, which ended July 2008. For current information about the MRRIC stakeholder process, including how to apply for membership on the Committee, please go to http://www.mrric.org.

National Park Service
Projects and Activities in the Missouri River Basin

Agency Authority, Jurisdiction and Responsibilities

The National Park Service has regulatory responsibilities on several National Park Units and/or National Wild and Scenic Rivers located on the mainstem of the Missouri River which could be affected by recommendations made by MRRIC. Additionally, the NPS has responsibilities on 61 miles of the Missouri River and over 700 miles of tributaries to the Missouri River that are listed on the Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI)(The NRI is a register of rivers that may be eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic River System. All federal agencies are required to consult with the NPS prior to taking actions that could effectively foreclose the segment from being designated as a Wild & Scenic River (http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/rtca/nri/).

The principle sites on the Missouri River which the NPS has jurisdictional responsibilities for and which could be affected by MRRIC recommendations include (from north to south):

  1. Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site: located in N. Dakota
  2. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site: located in N. Dakota
  3. Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (entire Missouri River)
  4. The Missouri National Recreational River (MNRR): The MNRR is also a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. Two segments of the Missouri River and two tributaries are included in this designation.
    1. 59-miles reach, which includes the Missouri River from Gavins Point Dam south to Ponca State Park (Nebraska and South Dakota). This segment is one of the few remaining reaches that is in a relatively natural condition.
    2. The 39-mile reach, which includes 11 miles of the Missouri River between the headwaters of Lewis and Clark Lake and Fort Randall Dam, plus the following two tributaries:
      1. Niobrara River—the lower 20 miles which flows into the Missouri River.
      2. Verdigree Creek—the lower 8 miles of the creek to the confluence of the Niobrara River (Nebraska).
  5. The Niobrara National Scenic River, a principle tributary to the Missouri River in north central Nebraska NE. 76-miles of the Niobrara River, from Valentine, Nebraska to Nebraska Highway 137, north of Newport is a designated Wild and Scenic River (the segment flowing through Fort Niobrara Wildlife Refuge near Valentine is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
  6. Nationwide Rivers Inventory (not a complete list):
    1. 2 miles of Missouri River: Hauser Dam to Cochrans Gulch (Montana).
    2. 4 miles of Beaver Creek: From confluence with the Missouri River, 4 miles upstream to Nelson (Montana).
    3. 59 miles of the Missouri River: Entire segment located within Fort Union and Knife River Indian Villages; 11 miles from Knife River (South Dakota) to Garrison Dam, and 44 miles from Square Butte Creek to Oliver/Mercer County line in (North Dakota).
    4. 255 miles of the Little Missouri River: From Lake Sakakawea to Marmarth (North Dakota).
    5. 327 miles of the White River: From Fort Randall Reservoir to Rocky Ford highway crossing (South Dakota).
    6. 39 miles of the Niobrara River: Above designated reach (20 miles to confluence with Missouri River) to Keya Paha River in KeyaPaha County (Nebraska).
    7. 29 miles of Cedar Creek: From the Missouri River to Highway WW (Missouri).
    8. 66 miles of the Gasconade: From the Missouri River to source (Missouri).

The majority of on-going and proposed recovery activities carried out to implement the Biological Opinion (BO) directly (and indirectly) affects the Missouri National River and Recreation Area (a designated Wild and Scenic River, which includes the Niobrara River at its confluence and upstream portions). For example, the river reach below Gavins Point Dam has been identified as critical for the recovery of piping plover and least terns and for BO implementation. BO implementation includes construction of approximately 4,000 acres of emergent sandbar habitat in the Gavins reach. Construction activities to create and/or maintain ESH involves dredging, construction of staging areas along shorelines, predator control actions (euthanization, trapping, relocation), and vegetation control (spraying with herbicides, mowing, or other treatments). Future dredging to maintain constructed ESH may also be required. Construction of ESH upstream of the dam and within the MNRR is also required for BO implementation. All of these activities trigger the need for NPS review and permit authorization pursuant to the NPS Organic Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Likewise, BO implementing actions that are upstream/downstream, or on a tributary to a designated Wild and Scenic River, or that are within park boundaries, or on a NRI river--such as construction of shallow-water habitat, fisheries restoration, sedimentation and/or in-stream flow manipulations, or bank stabilization activities, may also trigger NPS review/approval requirements.

Because of its regulatory role on the two Wild and Scenic Rivers, and other jurisdictional responsibilities associated with the NPS units and the NRI, NPS approval is required for actions, plans, and/or studies which may be recommended by MRRIC. In all of these instances, the NPS is legally required to evaluate the degree/magnitude of impacts. If NPS finds that certain activities are incompatible with either the National Park Service Organic Act or the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (would impair park resources or have a direct/adverse affect to Wild and Scenic Rivers), the NPS may deny permit applications or restrict other approvals. Hence, NPS involvement early on and throughout the planning and prioritization process, including participation in all deliberations associated with MRRIC, would avoid the possibility of proposals moving forward which the NPS may not be permit or otherwise authorize.

For comments or questions about this website, please contact: usiecr@ecr.gov. This page was last updated 3/14/2022.