Monday, April 10, 2017

Corps cancel Spring pulse, acknowledge native fish doomed


Despite expected run-off of about 115 percent of normal officials at the Omaha-based US Army Corps of Engineers have again canceled the Spring pulse for endangered species habitat on the upper Missouri River. Some 85 percent of the flood control storage remains available to contain runoff from the spring rainfall and mountain snowmelt but all significant plains snowpack has melted.

Oahe Dam releases averaged 19,000 cubic feet per second during March and the corps expect to send 27,400 cfs downstream in April. The reservoir fell 0.2 feet during March but is expected to rise this month due to increases in Garrison releases and spring rains.

The corps say
steady to rising reservoir levels during the forage fish spawn at the three large upper reservoirs, Fort Peck, Garrison and Oahe, are preferred, but may be difficult to accomplish this spring depending on the timing and distribution of runoff in the Missouri River basin during the coming weeks. If the runoff is not sufficient to keep all three reservoirs rising, the Corps will adjust releases to result in a steady to rising pool at Fort Peck and Oahe this year. The forage fish spawn generally occurs from early April through mid-June. [KCCR]
The corps were cleared of responsibility for epic flooding in 2011.

Participants from the University of South Dakota, Montana State and the University of Wyoming attended the annual Missouri River Institute Research Symposium last week at USD. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the South Dakota Community Foundation topics included the effects of human-induced climate change on the river system.

Nearly a century of residue from Black Hills Mining District affects millions of cubic yards of riparian habitat all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Although the Oahe Dam was completed in 1962 sequestering most of the silt the soils of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne Rivers are inculcated with arsenic at levels that have killed cattle. Endangered pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, catfish and most other organisms cope with lethal levels of mercury throughout the South Dakota portion of the Missouri River.
Both pallid sturgeon and shovelnose sturgeon are native to the Missouri River. They long ago adapted to living in riverine environments and, for the pallid sturgeon, that became something of an achilles heel with the damming of the Missouri River. Pallid sturgeon can’t reproduce without lots of moving water. [Pierre Capital Journal]
Tailings from uranium mining have been detected in Angostura Reservoir in the southern Black Hills and in northwestern South Dakota cleanup in the Cave Hills area went for decades without remediation.

Ellsworth Air Force Base is already a Superfund site leaching contaminants into Box Elder Creek, a tributary of the Cheyenne River. The former Gilt Edge Mine south of Deadwood is a Superfund site leaching contaminants into Elk Creek also a tributary of the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers.

Canadian miner Barrick Gold bought off the State of South Dakota for Homestake Mining Company's role in polluting Whitewood Creek by trading land in Spearfish Canyon for a proposed state park.

South Dakota's earth hater US senators and attorney general are leading a crusade to block the US Environmental Protection Agency from identifying non-point sources of pollution deposited into watersheds by their GOP donors.

Barrick Mining Company is on the hook for most of the worst shit: it's armed to the teeth with a bank of lawyers and lobbyists. The State enjoyed royalties and severance taxes. In another government land grab Barrick is engaged in negotiations that would trade property in Spearfish Canyon to the State of South Dakota belonging to tribal signatories of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.

With help from former Homestake land manager now Sturgis real estate broker, Denny McKay, former US Senator Tom Daschle sold out the people of South Dakota and the tribal nations trapped within its borders by drafting legislation holding Barrick harmless.

On the east side of the Continental Divide Barrick also operates the Golden Sunlight Mine near Whitehall, Montana. Effluent from that mine goes into the Jefferson River also a tributary of the Missouri and much of it lies in repose within Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

It's time for South Dakota's press to investigate the collusion between the state and polluters instead of pandering to the South Dakota Republican Party as it destroys watersheds by deconstructing the Waters of the United States rule protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act.

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