Corps announces plan to deter bird nesting on sandbars

Corps announces plan to deter bird nesting on sandbars In an effort to conserve additional water in the main stem Missouri River reservoirs, meet downstream flow needs and protect endangered species nesting on the river, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a "steady release � flow to target" plan May 2.

As a starting point, the Corps will release 23,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Gavins Point Dam. Flows may be cycled down two out of every three days to conserve water, depending on downstream needs. As spring rains taper off and tributary flows decline, releases from Gavins Point Dam and subsequently Fort Randall Dam will increase to meet downstream flow needs.

While this plan conserves water in a time of extreme drought, flows of 23,000 cfs also expose sandbars that may inadvertently attract the threatened piping plover and the endangered interior least tern, both of which nest on sandbars in the river. In response, Corps employees are actively working to deter birds from nesting on low-lying sandbars that may be covered by water later this summer.

Deterrence measures will include using mylar ribbon streamers staked on the sandbars, along with predator decoys, to scare the birds away. Also, visual obstruction panels may be put up to discourage nesting. The intent of these measures is to encourage the birds to avoid taking up residency on the low sandbars that would normally be underwater. The Corps would prefer the birds to nest on the higher sandbars where their eggs and young will remain safe as water flows increase later in the summer.

Additionally, as in years past, Corps employees will post sandbars along the Gavins Point and Fort Randall stretches of the Missouri River that have colonies of least terns and piping plovers. Areas posted with "Do Not Enter" signs are off-limits to the general public. Under federal and state law, the birds, their nests and eggs are protected. There are penalties for harassing or disturbing the birds or nesting sites.

The Corps asks that the public enjoy the Missouri River, while respecting the needs of these rare and unique species by avoiding posted sandbars.

, keeping pets off of sandbars with least terns and piping plovers and always "packing out trash."

For more information, contact Galen Jons, Resource Biologist, at 402-677-7873.

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