A group of citizens, concerned about the current flood plain development trends within the St. Louis Metropolitan region, established Great Rivers Habitat Alliance in June 2000. GRHA addresses issues affecting wetland habitat and promotes sensible use of flood plains in the confluence region of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers. Great Rivers Habitat Alliance supports preservation of the flood plains of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The organization’s primary focus is on the Confluence Flood Plain in St. Charles County. The organization seeks to save our natural flood plain and rural agricultural heritage. GRHA strives in influencing public officials to make changes in their policies and legislation that is affecting the regional flood plain development.
Since its establishment, GRHA has made contacts with regional influential politicians and officials and begun an awareness campaign to inform the general public about flood plain developments and new levee construction efforts that typically closely follow new flood plain developments. These awareness campaigns are the initial tools intended to raise attention about the importance of saving flood plains as natural water storage areas, instead of converting it into building sites for new, larger, strip malls and shopping centers.
In order to effectively conduct and fund awareness campaigns and other efforts, the IRS approved GRHA as a charitable 501c3 organization status in Fall 2000. GRHA has also formed partnerships with other environmental organizations such as Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and Ducks Unlimited, etc. to effectively work on flood plain protection efforts.
One of GRHA’s future goals is to acquire one or more conservation easements within the regional flood plain during 2001. The ultimate preservation goal is to protect 60,000 to 100,000 acres of land through easement acquisition and land purchases through federal, state, and private funding sources. The organization will continue making contacts with influential people addressing issues of concern.
- Passage of Missouri Senate Bill 225, which prohibits the use of tax increment financing in 100-year flood plains across the state and ensures the right to discharge firearms; a vital component in preserving hunting in the flood plain. This bill was spearheaded by the NRA.
- Halted the expansion of Smartt Field. Owned by St. Charles County, Smartt Field was set for expansion through a federal grant that would have allowed light jets to land in the heart of the Mississippi Flyway, which contains two-thirds of our nation’s migratory waterfowl. GRHA was able to convince the county council to pass on the expansion plan, saving tax payers another flood plain folly.
- Public awareness. GRHA has elevated flood plain development as an important issue among the voting public and one that plays heavily during local elections. Before GRHA, most voters were unaware how taxes were funding large-scale flood plain developments. This awareness has helped immeasurably to encourage sustainable development practices.