Corps building nesting habitat on Missouri River The Army Corps of Engineers has announced a plan to construct more than 110 acres of nesting habitat for two protected bird species along the Missouri National Recreational River from Gavins Point Dam to Ponca State Park in northeast Nebraska.
Construction began Oct. 8 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-December. Sand will be dredged from the river bed at two locations, river mile 761 and 770, to build islands which will then be contoured to provide the type of barren sand the birds prefer for nesting.
Interior least terns and piping plovers began using similar islands built near Ponca State Park in June while the bulldozers were still completing their work. Eventually, there were more than 50 active nests on those islands.
This construction effort is part of the Corps' compliance with the 2003 Amended Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last December. The additional nesting habitat is needed for the continued recovery of the two birds listed respectively as endangered and threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The project was evaluated by the Department of Interior pursuant to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
In addition to the dredging operations, the Corps removed vegetation from more than 120 acres of sand bars at a number of sites in the river from Fort Randall Dam to Ponca State Park. Other restoration efforts this year included the construction of 1,200 acres of shallow water habitat for the endangered pallid sturgeon.
"The Corps is committed to improving the survival of these protected species," said Brig. Gen. William Grisoli, Northwestern Division engineer.
"The Missouri National Recreational River, a unit of the National Park system, is one of the few unaltered stretches of the river and is protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. We will work closely with the Park Service to ensure that nesting habitat for these birds enhances the stature of this stretch of the river as a national treasure."