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implemented in the fullest before the drainers and dammers have a chance to show what they can do. It is true that the initial cost of such measures may appear to be higher than the construction of ditches and dams, but under such a program all people would benefit. If the public receives benefits, the public should be willing to pay for those benefits. Our critics probably feel that we are greatly concerned about what they would consider to be rather insignificant, or minimal, environmental losses. We would answer this by pointing out that most of the flood damage claims are also minimal when taken from the total State or national viewpoint.
In closing, I would like to make these recommendations. First, a moratorium on Federal channelization projects should be effected until a complete review of the effects of such channelization has been made.
Secondly, an ecologist should be assigned by the Soil Conservation Service to each State's watershed planning party. His recommendations should be given as much credence as those of the engineer and economist. Presently, our department and the Bureau's river basin people must work with 25 watershed projects planned, under construction, or completed. There are another 16 watershed applications pending that should have ecological studies made on them. We simply do not have the money or the staff to carry out these ecological studies.
Third, when wildlife enhancement benefits are built into a project, the Federal participation for developments of such benefits should be the same as those for flood control benefits. It seems rather strange that a development with general public benefits would have less value to the Federal Government than one which benefits a relatively few people.
We appreciate this opportunity to comment on this problem. Although many of our environmental problems are caused by activities of persons or agencies not connected with the Federal Government, we feel that correction of the problems I have discussed in this testimony would greatly benefit the natural resources of our State and Nation. Mr. VANDER JAGT. Thank you very much, Mr. Boldt.
Our next witness will be Mr. Robert Hanten of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, representing Mr. Robert Hodgins, director.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT HANTEN, SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF GAME, FISH, AND PARKS
Mr. HANTEN. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Robert Hanten. I am appearing for Mr. Robert Hodgins, director of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.
I want to apologize to the committee for the brevity of our report and the lack of specific data. We received your letter late, and we had to just summarize our original letter and resubmit it because we believed it was important for us to testify at this meeting.
The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks shares the same concern as that expressed by other conservation agencies and organizations; stream channelization is detrimental to fish and wildlife and to the ecology of bottom lands.
We disagree with the stated benefits derived from stream channelization projects, as follows:
a. Flood control-benefits may be derived from flood control within project areas, however, the accelerated flow of waters increases flooding downstream from these projects. This, then, perpetuates the need for more dams and/or more channelization. In addition, the drainage of wetlands into these channels only adds more water to create greater downstream problems. If work had been done to retard run-off on the headwaters, the large dams and channelization would be unnecessary. b. Improved navigation-increased sedimentation loads will certainly add to navigation problems. Dredging will become another costly operation.
c. Reduction in erosion-this is doubtful. Silt is settling in stilling areas to create long-term problems. Silt comes from the uplands and erosion of stream and lakeshores. Increased water velocity will increase erosion of streambanks, unless these channels are to be concrete-lined.
d. Increase in water supply for nearby communities-it is difficult to grasp the meaning of this statement of benefit. The same flow should occur in the streams, only for a shorter period of time. The faster run-off time can only result in lowered ground water tables, therefore, less available water.
e. Increased recreational opportunities-how was this determined? With less stream bottom wildlife habitat, fewer trees and fewer numbers and species of fish, the reverse will be true. Recreational opportunities for photographers and observers of nature, fishermen, hunters, mushroom-pickers, et cetera, can only be diminished.
f. More cropland acreage probably true, but again the destruction of stream bottom habitat and its ecology can only mean less fish and wildlife, including both game and nongame species.
g. Enhanced esthetic values ridiculous. We cannot see how a channelized stream will increase the esthetic values.
h. Increased income to local residents perhaps from the croplands, but not from other sources. 1,024
i. Improved fish and wildlife habitat-this is impossible. With the statement of (f) above, coupled with the destruction of stream bottom woodlands and river meanders and pools, the reverse is true.
This is referring to the original letter that we received from the subcommittee. To paragraph three of your letter, we can only agree that the statements are all true, and, therefore, we are opposed to stream channelization.
Stream channelization in South Dakota has been most serious in the Black Hills area. And I might mention here that channelization in the Black Hills area has been conducted by other organizations, private landowners, mining operations, highway construction, and so forth, and not so much from Government-sponsored channelization projects, but streams and rivers throughout the State have been seriously damaged or are in danger of being destroyed by Corps of Engineers and/or Soil Conservation Service sponsored projects.
All fish population studies concerning the effects of stream or river channelization show not only the obvious results of physically shortening the length of a river but the aquatic habitat becomes so drastically modified that fish abundance and compositon are changed so that fewer numbers and species (usually the undesirable) remain. Other adverse effects of channelization are: increased sedi
ment loads; high turbidity due to increased stream velocity and gradient; lowered water tables; drainage of marshes; and complete destruction of the scenic and esthetic values.
The destruction of the Missouri River bottomlands for the large impoundments in South Dakota eliminated the habitat for many game and nongame birds and mammals. Channelization, after damming, can only be more detrimental. Little of the Missouri River bottomland habitat remains in South Dakota and channelization can eliminate the rest.
Our publication "Who Cares" graphically illustrates our attitude toward channelization. The feelings expressed in this booklet are not limited to the Big Sioux River but all the rivers and streams in South Dakota; including the Missouri River from Yankton to Sioux City, the only unaltered section left in South Dakota, and the James River which are both under study by the Corps of Engineers for channelization or stabilization for barge routes.
We submit copies of "Who Cares" for inclusion into the record. (NOTE. "Who Cares" is printed in part 1, appendix 4, pp. 271-293, of these hearings.)
And we do agree that the stream channelization programs of the Department of Agriculture be temporarily halted pending a complete review of the program, with a view toward evolving effective policies which will protect and enhance our environment.
Mr. VANDER JAGT. Thank you, Mr. Hanten. Mr. Bagley.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE R. BAGLEY, NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CONSERVATION DISTRICTS
Mr. BAGLEY. Mr Chairman and members of the committee, I am George R. Bagley, of St. Joseph, La. I am National Vice President of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), and I appreciate being permitted to appear today to present the views of our association on the subject of "dredging, modification, and channelization of rivers and streams."
For nearly 35 years, soil and water conservation districts, in partnership with the Soil Conservation Service and other public agencies, both Federal and State, have carried out a continuous and highly successful program to conserve and improve land and water resources and the environment in which we live.
There are over 3,000 conservation districts in the United States with over 2.2 million cooperators. These districts are governed by 18,000 elected officials from all walks of life. They serve without pay and their prime interest is in making this country a better place in which to live, work, and enjoy life."
NACD is very much interested in the subject being considered in these hearings, particularly as it relates to the upstream watershed projects being carried out under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (Public Law 566). District leaders and our association were closely involved in the conception of this program in the early 1950's. The idea of planning and carrying out conservation measures over an entire watershed is widely recognized today as an appropriate and effective way to approach natural resource problems. It was not nearly as well recognized when we, other conservation organizations,
and many farsighted Congressmen worked for the passage of Public Law 566 back in 1954.
Back then, district leaders insisted that the watershed program be a local program with Federal assistance. It is truly a grassroots program-a plea from local property owners, urban and rural alike, for planned water management and protection from the ravages of floods. Soil and water conservation districts are the principal sponsors of each of the 1,000 watershed projects that have been approved to date and of the 2,000 additional applications that have been made to the Department of Agriculture. Along with county governments, municipal governments, other special-purpose natural natural resource districts, and agencies of State government, they prepare the applications, set forth the objectives to be served, and approve the plan on which the project is based.
From the very beginning, NACD has supported and worked for amendments to the original act to extend and improve its usefulness and broaden its purposes. These amendments, approved by the Congress, have transformed the program from one of primarily flood prevention to a multiple-purpose program of much greater breadth, providing for development of water supplies for towns and cities, industries, fish and wildlife enhancement, recreation, and agricultural use. It has become more and more a complete upstream water resources program, and we support the continued modification of this program to meet the needs of all people.
Public Law 566 has been one of the most dramatically successful acts ever created by Congress. It has upgraded the economic base of hundreds of communities throughout America. It has survived struggles between various administrations and the Congress, budgetary cutbacks, and agency rivalries. The State legislatures all over the country have enacted a substantial body of legislation to facilitate and accelerate watershed planning and construction and to provide financially for their support.
Local and State governments are providing some $44.3 million annually in funds and services as their share of the responsibility. The backlog of applications, a sure measure of the program's usefulness and popularity, is soaring. People want water management-big people, little people, and responsible people.
A major goal of soil and water conservation programs in this country, including the Public Law 566 watershed program, is to conserve and develop America's natural resources and improve the environment. Closely related to this is another objective, that of expanding economic opportunity throughout rural America. A better environment and better economic opportunity can do much to curb rural migration to metropolitan centers and provide for balanced national growth.
Some changes in the rural landscape are certain if these goals are to be achieved. Through careful planning and the full cooperation of all agencies and groups involved, these changes can take place in a manner that not only will avoid environmental damage but improve environmental quality. But we must also recognize that choices must be made and that compromises will be necessary in order to achieve a common goal in a positive way.
Your subcommittee is concerned with charges that stream channel changes that are included in some watershed projects are causing
serious damage to the environment. Statements have been made calling for an end to all channel work of any kind and criticizing the watershed program and soil and water conservation programs in general.
The position of our association is that channel work is neither good nor bad per se. Judgments as to the need for channel changes can only be made on a project-by-project basis by local people at the local level to meet local conditions.
Channel improvements are included in watershed projects only when no other way can be found to meet certain problems. One use is to provide sufficient capacity for carrying peak floodflows without damage. Another is to prevent flood damage to land and buildings in areas where the topography makes storage in detention structures impossible. A third is to make possible in high rainfall areas more efficient use of prime agricultural lands through drainage.
These objectives cannot be dismissed lightly. Channel improvements appear highly advantageous and desirable to the farmer who no longer loses his crops because of flooding or standing water. They seem most desirable to county officials who must repair roads and bridges after heavy rains. They are absolutely essential in the eyes of homeowners who are relieved of the hazard of water covering their yards, or entering their basements, during heavy storms.
In my own State of Louisiana, water channels are absolutely necessary on 60 percent of the total land area. Of the 26 million acres in the State, 15 million acres are flat; and there are no possibilities for controlling floods with detention reservoirs on these lands. We receive about 56 inches of rainfall per year and quite often get 6 to 8 inches in a 24hour period.
Without a well-planned system of channels, it would be impossible to protect homes, industries, and agricultural lands from begin buried in swamps of water. They flow during these heavy rainfall periods and stand in quiet pool stages most of the rest of the year. Sometimes they dry up.
Drainage, like channelization, is not evil by definition nor should it be condemned. In Louisiana, the public works division of our State government has been making heavy annual investments in drainage work since the early 1900's. This has made development of land possible not only for agricultural purposes but for other uses as well.
In over one-half of the State, we could not have a highway, an airport, a residential subdivision, or even a city without an adequate system of channels to remove excess water in a controlled and orderly fashion from the land.
Many of the channels serve several purposes. They are used to transport and store water for irrigation during the dry season and for drainage and flood control during the wet season. Control structures in the channels near the Gulf of Mexico keep salt water from intruding and are designed to hold a good supply of fresh water in the channel for fish and wildlife.
Many thousands of miles of channels in my State run through the middle of cities, towns, or cotton and soybean fields where there is little possibility of any wildlife habitat. To provide outlets for some of these channels, it is sometimes necessary to extend them through wooded areas or marshlands.