WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (AR), John Boozman (AR), and James Inhofe (OK), along with Congressmen Rick Crawford (AR-1), Tim Griffin (AR-2), Steve Womack (AR-3), Tom Cotton (AR-4), Jim Bridenstine (OK-1), Markwayne Mullin (OK-2), Frank Lucas (OK-3), Tom Cole (OK-4), and James Lankford (OK-5), sent a letter to Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, voicing support for the Three Rivers Study, a proposed reconnaissance study of the area located at the confluence of the Arkansas, Mississippi, and White Rivers, which is the starting point of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS).
The letter [PDF] states in part:
This study will help determine potential solutions, feasibility scope, federal participation interest, and willingness of non-federal sponsors to cost share in a feasibility study. It is our understanding that this reconnaissance study will cost about $100,000 and that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has carryover investigation funds nationwide that could be used to fund this high priority project of national significance.
The MKARNS is responsible for $1.5 billion to $3 billion in trade transportation in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas each year, not to mention the positive indirect economic impacts on the local economies. In addition, 42 countries have traded commerce with the Arkansas River Basin Region via the MKARNS. The MKARNS is also responsible for over $3.5 billion in industrial investments and provides flood protection, hydropower, water supply, and recreation benefits.
The Three Rivers Study would investigate ongoing threats to navigation and bottomland hardwoods at the confluence of the Arkansas, Mississippi, and White Rivers in southeastern Arkansas. As we understand, the MKARNS is being threatened with a breach between navigation miles 3 and 8 on the White River. If a breach occurs, navigation could be impacted for more than 100 days and the economic impact could easily exceed $300 million, including the loss of thousands of acres of wetlands. This watershed is home to the White River National Wildlife Refuge and more than 100,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods. This is the largest stand of bottomland hardwoods on any tributary to the Mississippi River and provides a home for numerous protected and endangered species, including the Bald Eagle.
We believe a reconnaissance study should investigate and address the serious hydrologic and hydraulic problems that threaten navigation, the aquatic ecosystem habitat, flood damage reduction, and protection of the watershed to help ensure the continued viability of the MKARNS.
For the foregoing reasons, we write in support of the Three Rivers Study and ask that resources are made available to complete the study.
CD01 Staff for Bridenstine
Congressman Jim Bridenstine was elected in 2012 to represent Oklahoma’s First District, which covers Washington, Tulsa, Wagoner Counties plus portions of Rogers & Creek Counties. Bridenstine serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. In 2018 he was confirmed as NASA Administrator. To see more of his articles via OKGrassroots while in Congress formerly via Bridenstine.house.gov