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American Rivers, Inc. v. Corps of Eng'rs

Citation: 35 ELR 20173
No. Nos. 04-2737 et al., (8th Cir., 08/16/2005)

The court dismisses various parties' challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' operation of the Missouri River main stem reservoir system and associated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) wildlife assessments. The court dismissed as moot several claims concerning the conditional summer low flow element of the 2003 biological opinion for the river. The Corps has constructed 1,200 acres of shallow water habitat allowing it to avoid the summer low flow requirement, and the Corps has no plans to implement summer low flows in the foreseeable future. And the lower court properly dismissed the remaining claims. The Flood Control Act imposes no duty to maintain a minimum level of downstream navigation independent of consideration of other interests. In addition, the Corps properly consulted with the FWS to produce the 2003 biological opinion, and the biological opinion complies with the Endangered Species Act. Last, the Corps adequately explained why its preferred alternative was superior to another evaluated alternative under the National Environmental Policy Act.

[A related decision is digested at 33 ELR 20239.]