The group called MORAST, or the Missouri River Organization of States and Tribes, has been working on those same issues for years.
MORAST executive director Mike Hayden says the group was created by the region’s governors.
“It is essentially a governors’ organization in the basin and has done a lot of real good work,” Hayden says. “Especially in times like these, we need to be unified and working together.”
In the past, Hayden says it’s been difficult to get the governors gathered together to talk about the best management practices for the river.
“The last general meeting of the governors in the basin was called by Governor Rounds a few years ago in South Dakota and only about half the governors attended,” Hayden says. “I hope with the flood crisis and everything that it motivates all of the basin’s governors to be in attendance.”
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has suggested that the downstream states form their own coalition. Hayden says he believes the basin will have better representation if the group stays together.
“As a former governor of Kansas, I never did think we should drive wedges between the states but that we should continue to work together, communicate and cooperate and agree on those things we can,” Hayden says. “It’s better for a comprehensive approach from St. Louis to Three Forks that all the governors work together.”
Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman will host the governors’ meeting in Omaha on August 19th. Officials from the U-S Army Corps of Engineers are also invited to the summit.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton