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.

Bureau of Reclamation
Projects and Activities in the Missouri River Basin

Agency Authority, Jurisdiction and Responsibility

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) www.usbr.gov is actively involved in managing water resources in the Missouri River Basin. Since 1902, Reclamation has been authorized to plan, develop, construct, and operate federal water resources projects in the Missouri River Basin states. Reclamation has constructed over 40 major water development projects in the basin. These projects consist of 55 single and multipurpose dams and reservoirs managed to provide for irrigation, municipal and industrial water supply, power generation, flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Combined these projects deliver irrigation water to 2.3 million acres, provide municipal water to over 40 communities, and have a total generating capacity of 720,000 kilowatts. The 18 power plants generate over three billion kilowatts of electricity each year, enough to meet the power needs of about a quarter million homes. Reclamation also works closely with other water management entities in the basin to carefully coordinate overall basin operations and to assist with future development. As a result of the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Program, Reclamation and the Corps jointly manage their projects to ensure the greatest benefit to the Missouri River Basin from an extensive system of dams and reservoirs.

Endangered Species Act Compliance

Reclamation has a legal obligation to ensure that its actions in the Missouri River Basin comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Section 7 of the ESA, Reclamation is required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the effects of its actions on federally-listed threatened and endangered species, including the pallid sturgeon, interior least tern, piping plover and other listed species found in the Missouri River Basin. Reclamation ensures that its actions, pursuant to consultation with the Service, do not jeopardize the continued existence of these listed species under Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA. Reclamation also has a responsibility under Section 7(a)(1) of ESA to use its existing authorities to protect, conserve and assist recovery of federally-listed species. Reclamation’s active participation on the MRRIC would demonstrate its commitment to both avoid jeopardy and assist recovery of the pallid sturgeon (and other listed species) under ESA-Section 7(a)(1) and 7(a)(2).

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

The MRRIC has defined the geographic area for its recommendations and guidance to include the Platte River Basin. The Department of the Interior, represented by both Reclamation and the Service, is a formal participant in the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program) along with the States of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. The Program encompasses the Platte River Basin which is a major tributary of the Missouri River. The first Program increment is a 13-year, $314 million program to undertake numerous actions to assist recovery of pallid sturgeon, interior least tern and piping plover in the Platte River Basin. The Program's actions would contribute to the success of similar actions within the larger Missouri River Basin. The Program has a formal governance structure for its participants. There needs to be a process for acknowledging, and perhaps integrating, the relationship of the MRRIC to the Platte River Program. This could be achieved by Reclamation and the Service participating on the MRRIC.

Reclamation's Future Section 7 Consultations

Reclamation is conducting a multi-year plan of study to develop and collect biological and operational/hydrological information that would used in a future Section 7 consultation with the Service regarding operation of Reclamation's major facilities in the upper Missouri River Basin (i.e. upstream from Ft. Peck Dam). These facilities include Canyon Ferry, Clark Canyon, Tiber, Fresno and Gibson dams. The consultation may result in a biological opinion by the Service regarding the effects of Reclamation's project operations on federally-listed species in the upper Missouri River Basin. As part of that consultation, the Service will likely also consider the cumulative effects of Reclamation's actions, along with interrelated and interdependent actions such as the Corps' operation of its dams on the Missouri River. Reclamation's active participation on the MRRIC and demonstrated commitment to implement the objectives of the MRRIC could be an element of a reasonable and prudent alternative to avoid jeopardy if one is needed for Reclamation's consultation on its actions in the upper basin.

Basin Wide Cooperation and Collaboration

Reclamation may be requested by the MRRIC to implement mitigation, recovery or restoration recommendations because it is a responsible Federal agency with projects and activities within the Missouri River basin. As a stakeholder and member of the MRRIC, Reclamation would be able to identify opportunities, provide essential information, answer questions, provide guidance and otherwise contribute to the development of reasonable, effective, and successful MRRIC recommendations.

For comments or questions about this website, please contact: usiecr@ecr.gov. This page was last updated 7/17/2019.