Missouri River flood may aid protected birds, fish

By JAMES MacPHERSON | June 6, 2011 | 2:43 PM EDT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Biologists say the swollen Missouri River that promises to be a prolonged headache for people in its path is likely to be a boon for some wildlife living in or near its basin.

Army Corps of Engineers biologist Greg Pavelka says receding waters eventually could leave behind more sandbars for piping plovers and interior least terns to nest once the river recedes.

And the endangered pallid sturgeon is likely to benefit from increased nutrients and organic matter deposited by high water that's mimicking the Missouri's flow before it was dammed starting some 60 years ago.

It could leave behind more natural habitat than the area's native species have seen in decades.

The Missouri is rising fast as water is released from dams to deal with heavy rainfall and melting snowpack.