The Missouri River Mainstem
From its beginning in Montana, the Missouri River winds its way south 2,500 miles to the Mississippi River, just north of St. Louis. The "Big Muddy" covers 524,000 square miles and encompasses all of Nebraska and portions of nine other states. The use of the river for electricity, recreation, navigation, fish and wildlife, irrigation, and industrial needs over several years has resulted in significant adverse changes, including:
- the loss of 600 miles of the upper river beneath reservoirs;
- the flow of 800 miles of the lower river into an artificial channel (leaving only about one-third of the river in its free-flowing, natural state);
- the loss of a natural river system with wetlands, flood plains and sandbars; and
- the endangerment and threat of extinction of over 80 species of plants and wildlife.
The "MoInfo Link"
When stakeholders expressed the need for diverse, geographically comprehensive, accurate, and timely information about the Missouri River, EPA Region 7's Missouri River Team responded by creating "MoInfo Link." This centralized database and website provides detailed information on the Missouri River and its basin through a user-friendly, visual "mile-by-mile" marked system. By describing individual communities throughout the basin and identifying their concerns, the MoInfo Link will help communities set priorities and forge comprehensive solutions regarding environmental protection, human social needs, ecosystem health, and economic prosperity.
Manitou Bluffs Strategic Planning Effort
Manitou Bluffs, a stretch along the Missouri River, was devastated by both the 1993 and the 1995 floods. Concerns in this area, detailed in the MoInfo Link database and website, include impaired fisheries due to habitat loss, nutrient loadings from agriculture, and degradation from urban land uses. The nonprofit Missouri River Coalition Network is mobilizing diversely interested local citizens to develop a strategic plan for the Manitou Bluffs watershed. The goal is to bring all parties together to ensure a protected, preserved, and economically viable future for this regional treasure.
EPA Region 7's Missouri River Project Partners:
- U.S. Geological Survey
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Farm Service Agency, USDA
- Missouri Department of Natural Resources
- Missouri Conservation Federation
- City of Columbia, Missouri
- Big Muddy Wildlife Refuge
- Friends of the Big Muddy
- Cooper County Port Authority
- Overton Levee District
- Residents, business owners, farmers, and land owners
- Fisher Environmental Controls
- Ozark Avalon Center
- Missouri River Community Network volunteers
- Rocheport & Columbia Planning & Zoning Commissions
- Boonville Port Authority
- S&S Seed Farms
- Missouri Department of Conservation
- Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission
- Greenbelt Coalition
- Boone County Commission
- Mayor of Lupus
- Boone County Farm Service
- Show-Me Clean Streams
- Center for Agricultural Resources & Environmental Systems
- Upper and Lower Basins--The Missouri River Basin is divided geographically and politically into an upper and lower basin.
- Sub-basins--The Missouri River is divided into eight large sub-basins.
- Population Density--Population in the basin is sparse in the upper section and more dense in the lower section.
- Congressional Apportionment--The congressional and political power is found in the lower section of the basin and is related to total population.
- Climatic Zones--The basin has five major climatic zones.
- Average Precipitation--Heavier rainfall in the basin is found in the lower and eastern sections.
Species of Interest
Changes to the Missouri have had drastic impacts on river wildlife. Declining species include sturgeon, paddlefish, chubs, minnows, catfish, bigmouth buffalo, least tern, piping plover, bald eagle, and other raptors.
Missouri River Facts
- The Missouri River drains 1/6 of the United States.
- The Missouri River flows 2,341 miles from headwaters in the Rocky Mountains (Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers) at Three Forks, Montana, to its confluence with the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri.
- The Missouri River basin is home to ten million people from 28 native tribes, ten states, and a small part of Canada.
- The Missouri River reservoir system is the largest in the United States with a storage capacity of 74 million acre feet and a surface area exceeding 1 million acres.
EPA Region 7 Contact
Kathleen L. Fenton
CARE Program Manager