Anglers concerned over Iowa fish monitoring station station closure
Anglers are concerned that they will have less information about fish populations and habitat after an Iowa agency closes its only fish-monitoring station on the Missouri River.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will hold a public hearing Tuesday at the Lewis and Clark State Park Visitor Center to discuss its plans for the Missouri River Monitoring Station.
The closure is necessary due to budget cuts, officials said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reimbursements have dropped to between 20 percent and 30 percent of the monitoring station's roughly $200,000 budget, said Chris Larson, the DNR's western Iowa regional fisheries supervisor at the Southwest Regional Office.
"We've been doing more with less for years, and we have more pressing needs in other parts of the state," Larson said. "We can't do everything. I wish we could."
The agency plans to reassign two permanent monitoring station positions to other locations in eastern Iowa by Oct. 5.
Onawa fisherman Matt Sorenson said he's concerned anglers will have less information about the area's fish after the station closes.
"I was upset because we weren't going to have any representation for this part of the state on the Missouri River," he said. "It's not just this one little area, it's the whole Iowa-Nebraska border."
David Weidt, a former Monona County Conservation ranger, said it's important to have researchers studying the river, particularly with the growth of the invasive Asian carp population.
"I think this is a horrible time for us to be pulling resources away from monitoring them," he said. "We need eyes and ears in the field from the Missouri River."