Flood's influence spreads

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 27, 2011 - 1:05 AM

The high water along the Missouri River ecosystem, while disastrous in many ways, might benefit ducks and fish.

hide

South Dakota National Guard members from Watertown, S.D., stacked sandbags to prevent floodwaters from the rising Missouri River from reaching an electrical box earlier this month.

Photo: Doug Dreyer, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Flooding of the kind seen across the northern U.S. this spring and summer is unprecedented in modern times. Changes that will occur as a result will range from landscape -- human developments and wildlife habitats will be lost, and some new ones (of the latter) made -- to political, as Congress doubtless will begin hearings later this year to try to pin blame on someone for the disastrous flooding now occurring particularly on the Missouri River, from Montana to Missouri.

It's a disaster that is far from over. Some of the largest dams in the world are built on the Missouri, some constructed more than a half- century ago, and water is rushing through them at levels that are testing the nerves of many observers, if not the Army Corps of Engineers itself.

A significant letup of pressure on the dams isn't expected until August.

A prime walleye fishing destination for many Minnesotans, the Missouri and its entire watershed are also visited each fall by tens of thousands of Minnesota hunters. Some seek ducks, others pheasants, deer, grouse or other wildlife.

For these sportsmen, the notion that state boundaries any longer restrict their consideration of what's important environmentally or recreationally is anachronistic. They might live in the Twin Cities or Winona or Ely, but the Missouri is where they fish.

Similarly, the Souris River, which is now flooding Minot, N.D., might be the placid stream they cross while goose hunting in October.

For these Minnesotans in particular, some considerations:

• Incessant rains that have inundated prairie Canada, Montana and the Dakotas this spring and early summer virtually ensure that duck production this summer will be high, according to Delta Waterfowl and Ducks Unlimited, both of which have offices in Bismarck. Breeding duck numbers were down 9 percent in North Dakota this spring, but with so much water on the landscape, surveyors might have missed some birds, or ducks that were in North Dakota last year might be in South Dakota, Montana or Canada this year, also enjoying excellent habitat. So the fractional decline is inconsequential.

"It will be a banner duck production year," said Rick Warhurst of Ducks Unlimited in Bismarck. "I've never seen anything like the water we've got in the state."

John Devney of Delta Waterfowl agreed: "Brood survival is always high in these conditions," he said.

• Duck hunting success in North Dakota and prairie Canada could vary widely this fall, however -- regardless of the number of ducks produced. So much water exists across the region that ducks likely will be widely scattered, making them difficult to find. Additionally, some back roads might remain underwater or otherwise impassable.

• Fish native to the Missouri, such as the endangered pallid sturgeon, likely will benefit from the massive amounts of water moving through the system, and from the river shoreline expanding beyond its traditional high-water marks. "For the river ecosystem as a whole, the flooding might in fact be beneficial," Mike Olson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck said Thursday.

• Wetland drainage has contributed to the region's flooding. Pattern tiling is occurring at a rapid rate in portions of the Dakotas, and wetland drainage continues also in Saskatchewan, where the Souris River originates before flowing south to Minot, then back north, to Manitoba.

• That said, primary causes of the spring and summer flooding include heavy soil saturation across the region last fall; heavy snowfall last winter; extraordinary rainfall this spring and summer; and the continuation of what is now a years-long wet period. Additionally, snowpack in the Rockies is at or near record levels for so late in the year, contributing to woes on the Missouri, which flows north from Three Forks, Mont., before turning east and eventually meeting up with the Yellowstone River.

"There's a real lack of understanding by the public about how the Missouri River system is managed," retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field supervisor Al Sapa said Thursday from his home in Bismarck. "People are looking for someone to blame, including the Corps of Engineers, but they manage the system according to a law."

The Missouri moved through Bismarck during a 1970s flood at 68,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), Sapa said.

"We're now looking at 150,000 cfs releasing from the dam here. It will continue that way until August. We've never seen anything like this."

Dennis Anderson • danderson@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Outdoors Journal: Early summer bird notes

    Thursday June 23, 2011

    A trained observer can pick out two dozen different bird species in a June morning chorus of singers. Waterfowl are mostly all in a flightless condition now; they are molting...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 12:00 PM
New York
Portland 6:00 PM
New Orleans
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Houston
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 3:00 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Florida 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Carolina
Chicago 6:00 PM
Columbus
Nashville 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 11:00 AM
Cincinnati
Charlotte 11:00 AM
Georgetown
SMU 11:00 AM
Michigan
Louisville 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Mount St Marys 12:00 PM
American Univ
Abilene Christian 12:00 PM
Boise State
UMass Lowell 12:00 PM
Duquesne
South Alabama 12:00 PM
IUPUI
Ohio State 12:00 PM
North Carolina
Massachusetts 12:00 PM
Providence
Syracuse 12:00 PM
Villanova
Citadel 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Belmont 12:30 PM
Fairfield
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Montreat 1:00 PM
Campbell
Delaware 1:00 PM
Fair-Dickinson
South Florida 1:00 PM
Florida State
Vanderbilt 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
SC State 1:00 PM
Houston
Missouri 1:00 PM
Illinois
Truett-McConnell 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Toledo 1:00 PM
McNeese State
Elon 1:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Drexel 1:00 PM
Penn State
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Rutgers
Albany 1:00 PM
Yale
PSU-Beaver 1:00 PM
Longwood
Eastern Ill 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Indiana 1:30 PM
Butler
Marshall 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
Lafayette 2:00 PM
Kansas
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
Memphis
Western Mich 2:00 PM
Northwestern
Delaware State 2:00 PM
Oregon
Fla Atlantic 2:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Arkansas Tech 2:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Howard Payne 2:00 PM
Texas-Arlington
UMBC 2:00 PM
Kennesaw St
St Josephs (IN) 2:05 PM
Chicago State
Eastern Mich 2:05 PM
Missouri State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Kentucky
UC Davis 3:00 PM
Air Force
Houston Baptist 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
Davidson 3:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
USC Upstate 3:00 PM
Miss State
NC Central 3:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Illinois State 3:00 PM
Murray State
Louisiana 3:00 PM
Northwestern St
Oakland 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Presbyterian 3:00 PM
UT Martin
Monmouth 3:00 PM
Wagner
Southern U 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Iowa State 4:00 PM
Drake
Wake Forest 4:00 PM
Florida
High Point 4:00 PM
James Madison
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Michigan State
New Hampshire 4:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Northeastern 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Huston-Tillotson 4:00 PM
Texas State
Purdue 4:15 PM
Notre Dame
Prairie View 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Xavier 5:00 PM
Auburn
Bluffton 6:00 PM
Akron
NJIT 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Columbia
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Dayton
Iona 6:00 PM
George Mason
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Texas A&M 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Morgan State 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Marist
East Carolina 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Richmond 6:00 PM
Pepperdine
La Salle 6:00 PM
Towson
Incarnate Word 6:05 PM
UMKC
CS-Bakersfield 6:30 PM
Idaho State
Iowa 6:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Long Beach State 7:00 PM
Texas
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
TCU
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Livingstone 11:00 AM
UNC Greensboro
Loyola-Chicago 11:00 AM
Dartmouth
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
St Francis-NY
Auburn 11:00 AM
St Johns
East Tenn St 11:00 AM
Jacksonville St
Western Mich 11:00 AM
Detroit
Cal-Irvine 11:00 AM
Wright State
Gardner-Webb 11:00 AM
Kennesaw St
(7) Stanford 12:00 PM
(11) Tennessee
Alabama A&M 12:00 PM
Ole Miss
Central Michigan 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Nebraska Omaha 12:00 PM
Creighton
FIU 12:00 PM
Western Carolina
Houston 12:00 PM
Nicholls
St Thomas Aquinas 12:00 PM
Army
St Bonaventure 12:00 PM
Niagara
Texas State 12:00 PM
Stetson
George Mason 12:05 PM
ULM
Grambling 1:00 PM
Kansas State
Missouri 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Robert Morris 1:00 PM
Cornell
Air Force 1:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Hampton 1:00 PM
James Madison
American Univ 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Texas Southern 1:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Tenn Tech 1:00 PM
NC A&T
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
NC Central
Penn 1:00 PM
Drexel
Lipscomb 1:00 PM
Xavier
Vermont 1:00 PM
Green Bay
Charleston Southern 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Ohio Christian 1:00 PM
Akron
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Murray State
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Iona
Indiana 1:00 PM
Oakland
Indiana State 1:30 PM
SMU
Denver 1:30 PM
Purdue
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
UCF 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Campbell 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M 2:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Northwestern St 2:00 PM
Jackson State
Lehigh 2:00 PM
Arizona State
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Toledo 2:00 PM
Southern Ill
Liberty 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Wofford 2:30 PM
North Florida
Montana State 3:00 PM
Washington St
Marshall 3:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Chattanooga
Northeastern 3:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 3:00 PM
(15) Georgia
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Ohio U 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Prairie View 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
High Point 3:00 PM
(12) Nebraska
Winthrop 3:05 PM
Wichita State
William Jewell 3:30 PM
UMKC
Louisiana Tech 4:00 PM
Utah
Southern Utah 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Hawaii 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Jose St 4:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Northridge 4:00 PM
San Diego State
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
East Carolina
Saint Peters 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Arizona 4:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Northwestern 4:30 PM
Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Wisconsin
Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM
New Mexico St
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
(16) Oregon State 5:30 PM
Nevada
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
Delaware 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Washington 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close