Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst.

Almost a dozen organizations have sent a letter to Governor Jay Nixon opposing plans to dump soil in the Missouri River. Missouri Farm Bureau is one of the groups protesting the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed action.

Click to hear KMZU’s Sarah Scott speak with President Blake Hurst:

Blake Hurst

The excavated dirt comes from the Jameson Island Project. “They are making shallow water habitat there. And instead of removing the soil, they’ll be dumping it or allowing it to erode directly into the Missouri River,” Hurst said, “At a time when Missourians are paying a 1/10th cent sales tax to cut soil erosion. Which is a very good thing, and we’re very appreciative of Missourians’ support of soil conservation. And we just hate to see this soil dumped in the river and headed down toward the Gulf of New Orleans.”

Missouri Farm Bureau supports the overall project. “It’s necessary for them to change the channel through the shallow water habitat, because it’s causing damage to the levee on the other side of the river. So we’re not in opposition to redirecting the channel. We think it’s essential that they do that. We’d just like them to keep the soil out of the river while they’re doing that,” said Hurst.

Dumping soil in the river usually requires permission from the Clean Water Commission. They have not ruled on this issue, and the Corps is moving ahead with their plans, despite the uncertainty.

Press Release from Missouri Farm Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The U.S. Corps of Engineers intends to move forward with a project that includes dumping excavated soil in the Missouri River north of Arrow Rock, Mo. The soil comes from modification of a 1-mile long chute designed to provide shallow water habitat for the endangered pallid sturgeon fish.

Just under a dozen groups, including Missouri Farm Bureau, sent a letter to Governor Jay Nixon requesting he take action to prevent the Corps from discharging soil from the chute area into the Missouri River and to force the Corps to modify its current work plan for Jameson Island such that all excavated soil from the proposed 200-foot width is removed from the chute meander belt area.

“The Corps should be informed that for the construction of chutes to comply with Missouri’s anti-degradation rules, conditions of nationwide permits and construction management guidelines that any of the soil intended to be removed from the chutes must be placed far enough away from the chute so as not to fall into the river,” the letter states. The current practice of depositing excavated soil into the river near the Jameson Island chute contradicts long-standing efforts, including investment of the 1/10th cent soil and parks tax, which have had success in promoting soil conservation practices.

The groups say questions remain about the aquatic benefits of chutes, but they are not opposed to the purpose of this project as modifications to the existing chute are necessary to prevent further damage to a levee opposite the existing outlet. The letter continues, “We believe the current chute can be realigned to achieve the stated goal of developing shallow water habitat without depositing the soil into the Missouri River.”

Signing the letter were: MFA Incorporated, Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG), Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Dairy Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Levee & Drainage District Association, Missouri Pork Association, Missouri Soybean Association and the Upper Mississippi, Illinois & Missouri Rivers Association (UMIMRA).