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Missouri River Watershed Council
Note: The Missouri River Watershed Council (MRWC) website is in transition. Please check back later for the new website. For now, you will find relevant information and documents below.
Mission: To maintain productive, biodiverse riparian ecosystems that provide quality water, habitat, recreation, and power to meet the economic and ecological needs of the Missouri River Watershed region.
Background: At 2,540 miles in length, the Missouri River is the longest river in the United States, and drains about one-sixth of the North American continent. From its headwaters in the northern Rocky Mountains, the Missouri River and its tributaries flow through the western states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. These states rely heavily upon the Missouri River headwaters system for economic and ecological stability. The rivers, streams, reservoirs, and ponds of the watershed support and provide for agriculture, livestock, recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, irrigation, drinking water, industry, and power generation throughout these states. Invasive species threaten these many uses.
The Missouri River Watershed Coalition was formed in 2005 in response to a need to consolidate resources, share information, and avoid duplication of invasive species efforts in the region. Since its inception, the MRWC has coordinated its efforts with federal, state, and local agencies, tribes, and other entities concerned with the spread of invasive species to achieve these goals:
- Reduce the introduction and spread of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) and other invasive plants in the Missouri River Watershed region;
- Increase regional coordination and communication, and develop regional management strategies and priorities for invasive plant species and water resources;
- Maximize funding efficiency for public education, prevention, management, and restoration projects on riparian corridors; and
- Join government, businesses, universities, conservation groups, landowners, water users, and sportsmen in private-public partnerships.
By taking a watershed approach to management and pooling limited state resources, the MRWC provides an ideal model for other states to use for regional coordination of invasive species efforts.
Recognizing the critical need to protect the natural resources of the Missouri River headwaters, state weed coordinators from Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming and other interested parties began the process of forming what would come to be known as the Missouri River Watershed Coalition in 2005. From the beginning, MRWC members acknowledged the need to consolidate resources, share information, and avoid duplication of efforts in the region. In 2012, Kansas became the seventh MRWC state.
The makeup of the MRWC is a demonstration of the strength that can be built by seating local and state agencies, concerned citizens groups, tribal nations, and federal regulatory agencies as collaborative managers, investigators, and decision makers. Further, having many of the highly-invested parties charged with invasive plant management and regulation of river resources represented in the MRWC membership has helped to promote inter-state and regional communication and will streamline projects, research, and outreach efforts at the watershed level. Finally, bringing managers, academics, and policy makers to the table ensures that research conducted by the MRWC has practical management applications, and the results are shared with other concerned parties throughout the Watershed, and beyond.
Financial resources are currently inadequate to effectively manage invasive species in many of the MRWC states. Increased funding to natural resource managers, county weed districts, and federal and state agencies, and improved efficiency and organization of grassroots efforts are critical to implementing viable weed management programs in the Watershed. With shrinking state budgets, the national economic downturn, predicted geographic expansion of well-established invasive species due to climate change, and the potential for many new invasions on the horizon, the need to cooperate and pool limited resources on the watershed level has never been more necessary.
Increased funding to natural resource managers, county weed districts, and federal and state agencies, and improved efficiency and organization of grassroots efforts are critical to implementing viable weed management programs in the Watershed. With shrinking state budgets, the national economic downturn, predicted geographic expansion of well-established invasive species due to climate change, and the potential for many new invasions on the horizon, the need to cooperate and pool limited resources on the watershed level has never been more necessary.
The MRWC has steadily grown in partner cooperation and membership since it was founded. Members include federal, state, and local agencies, Tribes, businesses, universities, conservation groups, and private landowners.
In 2010, the MRWC and CISM received a $1 million Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. The three-year project, titled “Conservation Approaches to Invasive Plant Management in the Missouri River Watershed: From Invasive Species Prevention and Control, to Biomass Utilization/Bioenergy Generation” provided knowledge and benefits to producers and land managers throughout the Missouri River Watershed area and served as a pilot project for the western region and potentially the nation. The four-year project had three primary objectives:
- Foster the adoption of innovative conservation approaches to invasive riparian plant management by monitoring mechanical and herbicide treatment and control sites infested with Russian olive and saltcedar for short- and long-term ecological changes, riparian system health and function, environmental protection, and natural resource enhancement.
- Investigate and demonstrate the use of innovative bioenergy technologies that promote the utilization of invasive plant biomass as a fuel source.
- Utilize MSU’s and the Coalition’s management and communications infrastructure and networks to coordinate all components of the project, and transfer project findings, products, and technologies to a broad range of regional stakeholders, including the private sector and NRCS.
States Involved: Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, Colorado, Kansas
Timeline: September 2010 – September 2014