The Missouri River is the longest river in the United States. At 2,540 miles in length, it drains about one-sixth of the North American continent. From its headwaters in the northern Rocky Mountains, the Missouri River and its tributaries flow through the western states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. These states rely heavily upon the Missouri River headwaters system for economic and ecological stability. The rivers, streams, reservoirs, and ponds of the watershed support and provide for agriculture, livestock, recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, irrigation, drinking water, industry, and power generation throughout these states. Invasive plant species, saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) in particular, threaten these many uses.
Recognizing the critical need to protect the natural resources of the Missouri River headwaters, state weed coordinators from Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming and other interested parties began the process of forming what would come to be known as the Missouri River Watershed Coalition (MRWC) in 2005. Since its inception, the Coalition has coordinated its efforts with federal, state, and local agencies, tribes, businesses, universities, conservation groups, and private landowners concerned with the spread of invasive plants throughout watersheds that cross jurisdictional boundaries. In 2012, Kansas became the seventh Coalition state.
Financial resources are currently inadequate to effectively manage noxious weeds in many of the MRWC states. Increased funding to natural resource managers, county weed districts, and federal and state agencies, and improved efficiency and organization of grassroots efforts are critical to implementing viable weed management programs in the Watershed. With shrinking state budgets, the national economic downturn, predicted geographic expansion of well-established noxious weeds due to climate change, and the potential for many new invasions (aquatic and terrestrial) on the horizon, the need to cooperate and pool limited resources on the watershed level has never been more necessary.
To maintain productive, biodiverse riparian ecosystems that provide quality water, habitat, recreation, and power to meet the economic and ecological needs of the Missouri River Watershed region.