KANSAS CITY, Mo. --
Leaders from The Mississippi River Commission along with leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers toured the Missouri River Mar. 29 – Apr. 1. Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, chief of engineers and commanding general, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Brig. Gen. D. Peter Hemlinger, commander, Northwestern Division, Col. William Hannan Jr., commander, Kansas City District and Col. Mark Himes, commander, Omaha District, met with partners and stakeholders and visited sites along the river.
The MRC, established in 1879, is composed of seven members, nominated by the President of the United States, and confirmed by the Senate. Three of the organization's members are USACE officers, one member is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and three members are civilians, two of whom are civil engineers. The MRC’s mission is to develop plans to improve the condition of the Mississippi River, foster navigation, promote commerce, and prevent destructive floods.
Headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss., the MRC provides water resources engineering direction and policy advice to the Administration, Congress, and the Army in the Mississippi Valley drainage basin. The work of the MRC is directed by its president, Maj. Gen. Diana M. Holland, and carried out by Army engineer districts within the watershed. The Missouri River is a tributary of the Mississippi River.
The current Mississippi River Commission members and their biographies can be viewed here: www.mvd.usace.army.mil/About/Mississippi-River-Commission-MRC/Current-Members/
USACE leaders were joined by staff members from the following USACE offices: USACE Headquarters, Northwestern Division, Kansas City District and Omaha District.
The purpose of the tour was to provide an opportunity for the MRC to inspect, listen and partner with neighboring USACE offices and local stakeholders with a focus on Missouri River levees and navigation.
In addition to presentations and discussions between USACE and the MRC, the group met with stakeholders along the tour route including the Holt County Commissioners, the Missouri Levee & Drainage District Association, the Port of Kansas City, and a group of navigation stakeholders.
“After meeting with the stakeholders and partners, I was pleased to hear about the relationships our district and division offices have built with them,” said Lt. Gen. Spellmon. “This collaboration enables the Corps to build a stronger and more resilient nation.”
The meetings with the Holt County Commissioners and the Missouri Levee & Drainage District Association focused on USACE efforts to restore levees after severe flooding in 2019.
“The challenges restoring federal and non-federal levees are different,” said Col. William Hannan. “This tour was a unique opportunity to discuss those differences and share ideas between the Army Corps of Engineers, our levee district partners and Mississippi River Commission leaders.”
The group visited the Overton Bottoms project site, a Corps’ Missouri River fish and wildlife mitigation site, to view the habitat improvement completed there along with the restoration to the breached Cooper County levees. The Corps partners with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to manage the Overton Bottoms site as a part of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
“One of the highlights for me on the MRC tour was seeing how our partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Overton Bottoms benefits both people and wildlife,” said Brig. Gen. Helmlinger. “Corps project managers and engineers are continually incorporating new ideas and working together with our federal and non-federal partners to maximize positive impacts.”
The MRC’s last visit to the Missouri River was nearly nine years ago in August 2012. Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., appointed in December 2012, is the longest-serving MRC member as one of the two civilian engineers.
“The Missouri River is not only important to the nearby communities it serves, but is also a vital tributary of the Mississippi River Basin, which covers 41 percent of the United States,” said Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D. “The interconnectedness of these waterways is benefitted by the interconnectedness of the many organizations that work together to ensure its continued reliability.”