Army Corps of Engineers seeks Missouri River sandbar project
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed a $2 million sandbar project on the Missouri River in North Dakota to help threatened and endangered birds.
The federal agency has started the approval process for the project to increase breeding habitats for least tern and piping plover populations on the Missouri River, the Bismarck Tribune reported . The Corps plans to dredge up sand to heighten and widen a submerged sandbar in order to make more open space for the birds to nest.
A similar project was done in South Dakota in 2009, and that area grew from one nest to more than 50 within a year.
In 2017, the Corps reported nearly 270 adult piping plovers and almost 200 least terns from North Dakota’s Garrison Dam to the headwater of Lake Oahe in South Dakota. They found more than 630 piping plovers and 320 least terns in the northern region area from Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota to Lake Oahe.
Jeremy Szynskie is the Corps’ program director for the Omaha Districts Emergent Sandbar Habitat. Szynskie said they’ve identified three potential locations for the 30-acre project. The Corps will consider sites near the Fort Clark State Historic Site, Washburn and the Cross Ranch State Park.
The Washburn and the Cross Ranch State Park locations would include two smaller sandbars with the channel cutting through the middle. One large sandbar would be built up for the Fort Clark State Historic Site.
Szynskie said man-made sandbars erode similar to sandbars formed naturally and usually have a projected lifespan of between three to five years. He said the Corps will need to continue rebuilding them in order to meet their goals.
The project is in the public comment stage of the National Environmental Policy Act process.