MSAC holds annual meeting in Niobrara April 23

Click the link within story to download or view the draft PMP.

Stakeholders around the Lewis and Clark Lake area continue to push for a sediment management plan for the lake, delta area and watershed. At the Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition’s 18th Annual meeting held in Niobrara Tuesday, April 23, two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) staff from the Omaha District delivered a draft Project Management Plan (PMP) to start the scoping process to develop a plan with a goal of sustaining the reservoir.

MSAC encourages the public to comment on the draft PMP. In January, MSAC requested technical assistance from the USACE through Section 22 Planning Assistance to States to develop a sediment management plan (SMP) for the reservoir behind Gavins Point Dam also taking into consideration the delta within the lake and upstream along with tributaries.

Paul Boyd, hydraulic engineer/River and Reservoir Engineering Section at the USACE’s Omaha District, presented attendees with background on the sedimentation at Lewis and Clark Lake along with efforts to develop a sediment management plan. The draft PMP outlines the site location, study authority, purpose of the PMP, purpose of the study, outlines the study process including a problem statement and study objectives. A timeline for the scoping process and the project team for the scoping are also identified. Also on hand for the annual meeting was USACE Project Manager Tim Goode.

After scoping is completed, a clearer picture of what the sediment management plan will entail including a timeline to develop the plan and costs is expected, according to Sandy Stockholm, MSAC executive director. Once agreements are in place, she said the scoping process could begin this Spring and conclude later this Summer.

“We are at the very beginning stages of laying the groundwork and defining the parameters of what it will take to produce the actual plan. After the scoping is complete, stakeholders will have a much better idea of the cost to develop a plan and what would be included in the plan. Stakeholders and MSAC will continue to access throughout the process to stay on track toward developing a plan that can be implemented and put to work balancing sediment in the system,” said Sandy Stockholm, MSAC executive director.

Also providing updates at the annual meeting were Nathan Schaepe, a hydrologist/GIS Specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Nebraska Water Science Center of Lincoln. Schaepe reported that LiDAR data collection surveys of a portion of the Niobrara River were planned this summer. LiDAR, Light Detecting and Ranging, is a technology like radar that can be used to create high resolution surveys including typography and water depths.

Niobrara village chairman Jody Stark reported on the town’s recovery since March’s flooding. MSAC President Mark Simpson, of Niobrara, facilitated the annual meeting which was held at the Ponca Tribal Headquarters in Niobrara.

Tim Cowman, Natural Resources Administrator with the South Dakota Geological Survey and faculty member of the Missouri River Institute in Vermillion, provided a brief look at early developments of Gavins Point along with early newspaper accounts of sediment problems, which were compiled for MSAC by a historical researcher. Cowman also serves as an MSAC board of director member.

MSAC will post a video of the annual meeting at its YouTube page soon. Also look for more information at www.msaconline.com. Send your comments regarding the draft PMP to msaconline@gmail.com, mail to: MSAC, PO Box 2, Springfield, SD  57062 or call 605-661-1594. The draft PMP and presentation slides from April 23 are available at MSAC’s website.

In other annual meeting business, Board of Director Members Charlie Gross of Yankton, Randy Holmquist, of Mitchell, and Butch Becker of Yankton, were re-elected to the board.