Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How appealing!

It's official. The USACE has decided to appeal the ruling against the St. John's-New Madrid Floodway Project. The Environmental Defense Fund argued successfully last month that the Corps' project to stop flooding in southeast Missouri neglected rough game fish habitat. The Corps filed an appeal hours before the official cutoff hour of midnight, November 14, 2007 to counter the argument. The appeal sits on the Solicitor General's desk in Washington, D.C. tonight, awaiting approval.

Several things can happen now: The Corps can appeal the ruling and revise the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which details the impacts of closing the gap to fish habitat. The Corps can offer to install the mitigation plan (restoration of 8,000 acres of bottomland hardwood forests and swamp habitat) without the project being completed. Or, finally, the Corps can revise the entire mitigation plan, allowing for more fish habitat that wasn't ever included in the original plan.

Here's the part that has me clicking my heels tonight: regardless of the ruling, the park will have a restored hydrology project. Whether through the Corps or through state funding, the federal environmental impact study requires that hydrology is restored to the park. If hydrology, the dynamic flood regimes that gave rise to these ancient forests, is not restored, the forest will die. Hydrology could be restored faster and easier if the appeal passes the courts, but if it doesn't, the Missouri congressional delegation could invite a legislative fix which would overturn the court for the sake of a worthwhile project. The last time the legislative overturn affected a project was for a measly $40,000 project. The Corps project is estimated at $87 million. Let's hope the appeal is accepted...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It'll happen when Ms. Vaughn goes to Washington