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The New Madrid Floodplain- A haven for wildlife is at risk

Holly Neill, Executive Director Stream Teams United

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a project to construct a levee in the New Madrid Floodplain designed to manage flood risks in the area. The proposed project area is located in Missouri’s Bootheel and is a strip of land along the Mississippi River.  This project comes with a price tag of $165 million and would eliminate the last remaining connection between the Mississippi River and its floodplain in the state of Missouri.

The proposed project would remove crucial fish and wildlife habitat and degrade or destroy 53,556 acres of functional wetlands.  Millions of animals depend on this floodway’s connection to the Mississippi River for both food and habitat.  The endangered least tern, migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, and at least 93 different species of fish are amongst many that would be affected.   The project’s impact would be particularly devastating to a remarkably rich and unique fishery that relies on this floodway for vital spawning and nursery grounds.  In total, 93 different species of fish have been collected from the streams and bayous in the proposed project area, including 10 species that are considered endangered, rare, or on the watch list in the state of Missouri.  If this project is constructed species such as the white bass will lose 100% of the extensive spawning, rearing, and foraging habitat provided by the New Madrid Floodway.

Although touted as a project to manage flood risks professionals and studies disagree and feel this levee project will actually do the opposite and threaten the safety of many river communities.  The public comment period is now closed and the US Army Corps of Engineers is currently addressing public comments.  Opposition is asking EPA to VETO the proposal in violation of the Clean Water Act.  We encourage you to learn more about the proposed project and the unique and diverse wetlands it puts at risk.  Learn more at www.nwf.org

A goal of Stream Teams United is to encourage advocacy among stewards of Missouri’s waterways.  One way we do this is by educating folks about issues that affect our state’s waterways.  If you have an interest in receiving more information about issues that affect Missouri’s waters please sign onto our mailing list at here.