By National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Water Science and Technology Board, Committee on Missouri River Ecosystem Science

Document from the Committee on Missouri River environment technological know-how and the nationwide study Council. Softcover.

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Extra info for The Missouri River Ecosystem: Exploring the Prospects for Recovery

Sample text

Iowa and Missouri recognize common law riparian rights and permit rights. Riparian rights exist by virtue of ownership of land adjacent to a stream and do not depend on actual use. Kansas is now a pure appropriation state. Nebraska is a dual state and recognizes both riparian and appropriation rights. Rights of Indian Tribes. Indian tribes may claim group rights that have both riparian and appropriative characteristics. Based on the Winters Doctrine of 1908, federal reserved water rights arise by virtue of the creation of a reservation.

Throughout the basin, most rain falls during the spring and summer. The basin’s western rivers, such as the Marias and the Yellowstone, gain a large portion of their flow from spring snowmelt. In eastern portions of the Missouri basin, the climate is humid continental and the vegetation is medium-height bluestem grasses, with mixed oak and hickory forest. Moving westward into more arid regions, grasses generally become shorter and more sparse. In this portion of the basin that MISSOURI RIVER HISTORY, MANAGEMENT, AND LEGAL SETTING 23 straddles the one-hundredth meridian, irrigation is practiced in some areas (some with water tapped from the Ogallala Aquifer), but some crops can be grown without supplemental water during wetter years.

The Missouri basin’s settlement was encouraged by public land policies such as the Homestead Act of 1862 and Desert Lands Act of 1877. However, settlement in the basin’s upper, interior reaches was more ephemeral compared to other parts of the west, as droughts and harsh winters there caused many to leave the basin. During the nineteenth century, the prevailing assumption was that land disposition policies would be sufficient to settle and sustain the West, including much of the Missouri River basin.

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