Court Issues Stay on Missouri River Lawsuit
(Pierre) – A federal court is giving permission to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release water from reservoirs in South Dakota. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay order in the Missouri River lawsuits today. This ruling releases the Corps from a previous preliminary injunction imposed by United States District Court Judge Charles B. Kornmann.
The injunction filed by the Attorney General’s office in April, banned the Corps from lowering water levels at Lake Oahe and Lake Francis Case. Low water levels can lead to the destruction of Rainbow Smelt and other forage fish eggs and in turn devastate the Walleye population.
“The injunction served its purpose. It was filed to protect the annual fish spawn in the Missouri River, and since the primary spawning season is over the ruling isn’t as detrimental as it would have been a couple of weeks ago,” said Attorney General Mark Barnett.
According to a 1993 agreement, the Corps must give equal consideration to navigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife needs before releasing water.
“We’re going to make sure the Corps keeps up their end of the bargain, and we will continue to push the Corps to release a revised Master Manual for river practices and uses,” said Barnett.
The state will continue to seek a permanent injunction against the Corps of Engineers to require them to consider all uses of the Missouri River and to stop giving preferential treatment to the barge industry.