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NFC: Fw: RiverCurrents: March 8, 2002


RiverCurrents: March 8, 2002

Brought to you by www.americanrivers.org: 
The online community for river activists and river friends

AOL KEYWORD: American Rivers
SPECIAL EDITION: The Army Corps in the spotlight
Three separate, significant events unfolded this week concerning the 
Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency that has tremendous impacts 
on our nation's rivers and wetlands. In this issue of RiverCurrents, 
we bring you an overview of, and American Rivers' reactions to, this 
week's developments.
In the spotlight:
*        President Bush fires Michael Parker, Assistant Secretary of 
        the Army
*        Legislation would overhaul Army Corps
*        Corps plan to dredge Columbia River doesn't hold water
Did you know?
*        About the Army Corps
*        The Missouri River: will the Corps do the right thing?
How you can help
*        Public Hearings: Speak up to protect the Mississippi River
*        Take Action
*        Join the movement
Contact American Rivers
*        How to contact our staff working on Army Corps issues

1) President Bush fires Michael Parker, Assistant Secretary of the 

The White House on Wednesday dismissed Michael Parker, Assistant 
Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. The move was prompted by 
Parker's failure to defend the Administration's budget cuts for his 

American Rivers and the conservation community welcome the news. Mr. 
Parker did not serve the nation well as Assistant Secretary, and the 
President's decision was a good one for the environment and for the 

In his short tenure, Mr. Parker not only lead the most significant 
rollback of wetlands protection in recent history, he also displayed 
the same attitude that the Corps of Engineers has shown for years: 
that the agency is entitled to generous helpings of the public's tax 
dollars, regardless of the merits or environmental consequences of 
its projects. 

This incident underscores the need for legislative reforms that 
subject Corps projects to greater scrutiny. We urge the Congress to 
take swift action on the Corps of Engineers Modernization and 
Improvement Act of 2002 (see below). 

Read more:
The Washington Post, March 7: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 6: 

Senators Robert Smith (R-NH), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and John McCain 
(R-AZ) this week introduced key legislation to protect the 
environment and curb the waste of tax dollars.  

The Corps of Engineers Modernization and Improvement Act of 2002 will 
institute critically needed reforms to the way the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers constructs and proposes projects to Congress.  

American Rivers urged swift action on the bill which would help put 
an end to the Corps' all too common practice of justifying proposals 
to Congress with faulty or self-serving environmental and economic 
analyses, and would require greater economic returns for the 
investment of tax dollars.

"The Corps has wasted millions of dollars on projects that destroy 
the environment while failing to produce promised economic benefits," 
said Melissa Samet, Senior Director, Water Resources.  "We applaud 
Senators Smith, Feingold, and McCain for their bold efforts to put a 
stop to the practice of wasting tax dollars on environmentally 
destructive boondoggles."

Get the full story about the bill:
To read a summary of the bill, visit Taxpayers for Common Sense:
View other introduced Corps Reform bills:

The Oregonian newspaper this week ran a three-part series on the Army 
Corps of Engineers' proposal to dredge the lower Columbia River. 
Based on its own six-month analysis of the project, the paper 
concluded that the dredging plan is a bad deal for taxpayers and for 
imperiled salmon.

The Army Corps and Port officials say dredging the Columbia's 106-
mile navigation channel is necessary to keep Portland competitive in 
the world marketplace. But the Oregonian found that the study used to 
justify the project--a study conducted by the Army Corps itself--
exaggerates the project's benefits. 

Among other findings, the Oregonian reports that "The Corps' 
miscalculation of benefits means the project will generate less than 
$1 in benefits for every taxpayer dollar spent, as required by agency 

In addition, the newspaper states, "The Corps based its study on 
outdated, flawed and inaccurate projections for wheat and other 
commodities and erroneously counted thousands of empty cargo 
containers as full." (The Oregonian, 3-3-02) 

The Columbia River's salmon have suffered over the past century as 
the Army Corps has dredged and dammed the river to provide both 
navigation and hydroelectric power. Scientists agree that dredging 
the lower river poses yet another risk to 13 threatened and 
endangered salmon runs. The lower Columbia River provides critical 
habitat and is an important nursery for young salmon.

Read the full story from the Oregonian:
Read more about the lower Columbia estuary and its importance to 

About the Army Corps:
Since its formation in 1776, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has 
greatly impacted our nation's waters by straightening, deepening and 
damming rivers, constructing levees and floodwalls, dredging harbors 
and removing snags (fallen trees that provide habitat). The Corps has 
*        11,000 miles of inland waterway navigation channels 
*        8,500 miles of levees and seawalls 
*        More than 500 dams 

American Rivers is leading a nationwide effort to reform this federal 
agency, pushing for greater accountability for protecting rivers and 
ensuring that future projects reflect the highest possible standards, 
are economically justified and environmentally sound.

To learn more about our efforts to reform the Army Corps, click here:

"In Control of Nature" by John McPhee

"A best-selling account of places in the world where people have been 
engaged in all-out battles with nature. In Louisiana, the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers has declared war on the lower Mississippi River=85"
Buy this book at Powells.com:


(When you use this link, Powells will donate a percentage of your 
purchase to river conservation)

* If the above link doesn't work for you, click here and use the 
search box: http://www.amrivers.org/riverbooks/default.htm 

The Missouri River: will the Corps do the right thing?
American Rivers recently made a "special delivery" of 50,000 public 
comments to the Army Corps of Engineers. Thanks to our broad network 
of members, activists, and partners, these comments send a loud 
message to the Corps: restore the Missouri, our nation's longest 

American Rivers is calling on the Corps to adopt the "Flexible Flow" 
management plan for its six Missouri River dams. Restoring more 
natural seasonal water levels would improve the Missouri's health, 
save endangered species from extinction, and boost outdoor recreation 
and tourism opportunities along the river.

"The Missouri River belongs to the American people, and a whole lot 
of them believe that it's time to restore the river for everyone to 
enjoy and benefit from," said Chad Smith, director of American 
Rivers' Nebraska Field Office in Lincoln.

At the end of May, the Corps will release the Final Environmental 
Impact Statement with a single preferred alternative for managing the 
river's six dams and reservoirs. This will be followed by a 30-day 
comment period. A record of decision will be released in October and 
implementation of the revised Master Water Control Manual will begin 
in March 2003.

Will the Corps do the right thing? To take action and watch for 
updates, visit http://www.savethemissouri.org/ 

1) Public Hearings: Speak on Behalf of the Mississippi River
The Army Corps is holding a round of public hearings starting next 
week on the restructured Mississippi River navigation study. You can 
make a difference -- attend one of the hearings and tell the Corps 
that the river's health matters to you!

Hearings will be held in Peoria, St. Louis, Bloomington, La Crosse, 
and Davenport.   

Click here for details:

2) Take Action
Just say NO to environmentally destructive boondoggles! Protect our 
nation's rivers. Tell Congress to reform the Army Corps! 

3) Join the movement!
Click here for a list of groups we are working with to reform the 
Corps-- if you'd like your group to be listed, please contact Kelly 
Miller, kmiller at amrivers_org

Melissa Samet, Senior Director, Water Resources: 415-482-8150, 
msamet at amrivers_org
Kelly Miller, Associate Director, Water Resources and Outreach: 202-
347-7550, kmiller at amrivers_org 
David Moryc, Conservation Associate, Northwest Office (Portland, OR): 
503-827-8648, dmoryc at amrivers_org 
Chad Smith, Director, Nebraska Field Office: 402-477-7910, 
csmith at amrivers_org 



RiverCurrents is a weekly summary of river news and information as 
reported by media outlets across the country. The inclusion of a 
story or point of view in RiverCurrents does not necessarily indicate 
endorsement by American Rivers. Unless American Rivers' position is 
clearly indicated, stories or points of view expressed in 
RiverCurrents are solely those of the groups and individuals named 
and not those of American Rivers. 

If you have clarifications or corrections about a story in 
RiverCurrents, please send them to asouers at amrivers_org.

Thank you robertrice at juno_com for helping to protect and 
restore America's rivers.

To contact American Rivers, email Rebecca Sherman at 
outreach at amrivers_org or call 202-347-7550, ext. 3052.

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