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National Research Council Reviews Corps’ Navigation Study

Published Oct. 6, 2004
VICKSBURG, MISS., October 6, 2004 -- At the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the
National Research Council (NRC) has provided a report on their review of the Corps of Engineers’ Draft Upper Mississippi River - Illinois Waterway System Navigation Feasibility Report.

The NRC report offers both positive comments and areas of concern that along with state and other
federal agency review will be used to develop the final Corps recommendation to be contained in the
Chief of Engineers’ report scheduled for November 2004.

The NRC acknowledges the challenges of developing a long-term plan for navigation efficiency and
ecosystem restoration. Additional, the NRC report states that the preferred plan contained in the draft
report provides an “excellent framework for comprehensive adaptive management” of the river system
and that many of the study’s weaknesses can be overcome by the recommended adaptive

“We recognize the limitations of the state-of-the-art in economic and environmental analysis, and our
recommended plan contains many adaptive management components,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Crear,
Commander, Mississippi Valley Division. “The NRC Panel has provided important information and
recommendations that will assist in developing the adaptive implementation plan for both navigation
efficiency improvements and ecosystem restoration.

While the NRC noted the need to improve our evaluations of economic and ecosystem restoration
matters, the NRC also acknowledged that these concerns go beyond the scope of the study and
credited the Corps for initiating a research program aimed at developing new economic models for
evaluation of inland navigation projects. The NRC also noted that we do not need to stop while these
areas are addressed and can proceed with implementation while we work on continuing data collection, improving modeling techniques and adapt the plan to emerging conditions.

“This review is important to ensure Congress and the public are provided with a quality review of our
draft report,” said Brig. Gen. Crear. “The efforts of this distinguished panel are the product of a great
deal of effort and commitment, and the Corps has benefited from the members’ broad experiences. We thank them for their efforts and look forward to reviewing their analysis and recommendations in detail.”

Since restarting the study in 2002, a key component was to conduct the study in a spirit of open
collaboration with federal, state, non-governmental partners and the public.

“We completed this study openly and collaboratively and the NRC panel’s recommendations will be of
great help to us,” Brig. Gen. Crear noted. The draft feasibility report was completed as a collaborative
effort of the Federal Principals Group, consisting of senior managers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of
Transportation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the states of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin
and Minnesota; and the non-government organizations participating in the study.

Information about the NRC findings can be found at the National Academies website
( and details about the Upper Miss study are at the Restructured Navigation Study
website (

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Release no. 04-20