Omaha in Douglas County, Nebraska — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
A River of Hope
A river forever changed by the power of humans flows beneath this bridge.
For more than a century, man has worked to tame the natural cycles of the Missouri River and exploit its power. There are benefits. Dams hold back floodwaters that once threatened bottom land farmers and residents of Omaha, Council Bluffs and other towns along its banks. A narrow and deep navigation channel was created to make barge shipping more efficient. Stable water levels assured communities along the river a constant, reliable water supply. And water released from the dams generates hydroelectric power.
But there are also costs. Lost in these transformations were 154,000 acres of aquatic habitat and 354,000 acres of river-dependent habitat. Islands and sandbars are mostly gone, as are side channels, chutes, backwaters and half of the river's surface area. Most of the sediment that once coursed the river and is critical to river function is now trapped in upstream reservoirs.
By 2008, of the 67 species of fish native to the Missouri River, 51 are now rare or reduced in number, or in the case of the pallid sturgeon, endangered. Birds and mammals also suffer, including the threatened piping plover and endangered interior least tern, both of which require sandbars for nesting habitat. An endangered clam, the scaleshell mussel
Change is coming once again, this time with the hope of restoring the fragile ecosystem of the river. Through its Missouri River Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources have been working to regain the lost habitat by reopening chutes and backwaters and modifying or adding structures in the main channel to create sandbars and other shallow water habitat. Efforts will also be made to mimic the natural cycles of the spring rise to ensure the continued existence of declining native species.
We are just beginning to understand how our actions have affected the Missouri River. Now we must take what we have learned and continue to work to restore the river ecosystem.
With time, we can learn to coexist with the river, A River of Hope.
Location. 41° 15.931′ N, 95° 55.414′ W. Marker is in Omaha, Nebraska, in Douglas County. Touch for map. Marker is on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge across the Missouri River, off Riverfront Drive. Marker is in this post office area: Omaha NE 68102, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. the Council was held (within shouting distance of this marker); Capt. Lewis...will...give us accounts of new things only (within shouting distance of this marker); Westwardly by the Waters (within shouting distance of this marker); endeavor to make yourself acquainted...with...the nations (within shouting distance of this marker); Nature exerted herself to butify the Senery (within shouting distance of this marker); A River of Change (within shouting distance of this marker); People, Places, and Stories (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Preserving Our Heritage (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Omaha.
Also see . . .
1. The Missouri River Story. (Submitted on March 3, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Missouri National Recreational River. (Submitted on March 3, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Missouri National Recreational River Water Trail. (Submitted on March 3, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. Missouri River Institute. (Submitted on March 3, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Categories. • Environment • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 2, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 378 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on March 3, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.