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Iowa lawmakers eliminate Missouri River Authority

IARN — Both chambers of the Iowa Legislature have approved a measure that would dissolve a Missouri River commission that was established in the early 1990s.

Created in 1991, the Missouri River Preservation and Land Use Authority existed to develop comprehensive plans for the development and implementation of strategies designed to preserve the natural beauty of the land around the Missouri River. By a 59-34 vote this week, the Iowa House gave final approval to SF185, eliminating the authority.

Republican State Representative Jon Jacobsen of Council Bluffs says the authority currently has no members and hasn’t met in nearly 30 years. Calling the bill code clean-up, he says Iowa already has other agreements in place to address flooding along the Missouri River.

“Iowa collaborates with Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and the Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha and Kansas City offices to prepare and plan for floods and the land adjacent to the Missouri River,” said Jacobsen.

Jacobsen also points to agreements between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for management of Corps-owned land along the river. Additionally, he says another funding of the commission dealt with endangered species and habitat along the river, something he says is currently covered by the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee.

“MRRIC is a 70-member committee that’s made up of federal, state, tribal and stakeholder representatives throughout the basin,” said Jacobsen. “It provides guidance and recommendation to federal, tribal, state, local and private entities for the river’s threatened and endangered species and on the Missouri River ecosystem restoration plan working to restore their habitats, while sustaining the river’s many uses.”

Democratic Representative Charlie McConkey of Council Bluffs also voted against the legislation. McConkey says he would like to keep the authority as another tool in the toolbox to help with recovery from the devastating floods of 2019.

“Restoring the flood plains of the Missouri River, floodwaters need a place to go without destroying agriculture lands, homes and businesses,” said McConkey. “Also, restoring the natural flow of the river, restoring habitat for wildlife and dealing with rebuilding the strength of the levies while maintaining flood storages.”

The bill now heads to Governor Reynolds for her signature before becoming law.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network

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