the BSNP, the Corps played a dominant role in Missouri River decision making.
With changes in laws and shifts in social preferences and priorities, the setting of decision-making processes for Missouri River management has become more complicated. Notable changes in the legal setting include passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969, the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, and several other environmental protection statutes. Along with this new federal legislation, recreational uses of the river were an authorized purpose of the Pick-Sloan Plan, and slackwater recreation in the lakes created by the dams is accorded a high priority today by many citizens. For the Corps of Engineers, this means operating the system to meet demands of all six authorized uses—flood control, water supply, hydropower, commercial navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife. Examples of these latter interests include water-based recreation on the National Wild and Scenic River segments in Montana and on the National Recreational River segments in Nebraska and South Dakota, which were developed in response to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Moreover, under the Endangered Species Act the Corps must comply with legal requirements to protect federally listed native species from extinction as a consequence of their actions and recover and maintain their populations by removing or lessening threats of their actions to the species’ survival. Additionally, under the 1934 Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, federal agencies were required to mitigate for habitat loss due to water development projects. The 1934 act was specifically applied to the Missouri River under the 1980 Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Report and became the origin of the Missouri River Mitigation Program (described later in this chapter).
Congress expects Corps of Engineers dam and reservoir system operations to reflect these multiple goals. In that regard the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual (Master Manual) was prepared by the Corps in 1960. The most recent Master Manual update was released in March 2006, after consultation with user groups and government agencies across the basin. The change was motivated by the desire to meet authorized purposes and newly emerging demands on the system, but more importantly to be in compliance with the 2000/03 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Opinion.
Today, decisions about how to manage the river’s dams, reservoirs, navigation channel, and other resources are guided by an extensive body of laws, agency guidance documents, budgets, and river users who can voice their preferences through the political process. In some instances conflicts among users and among agencies with conflicting missions are resolved through court rulings. This report refers to the collective body of these interrelated laws and policies as the “governance system” for Missouri River management.