Environmental Factors

Three pictures in one photo include a prescribe fire, a piping plover, and river bank material.
Restoring habitat, protecting threatened species (piping plover), and bank line monitoring are some of the activities of the park's Science and Resource Management Division.

NPS Photo.


The Missouri and Niobrara rivers are ever flowing and they are in a perpetual shifting, dynamic state. A multiplicity of factors affect the river the surrounding environment. These agents of change include:

  • Changing water levels due to releases from the dams and moving sand drive these changes
  • The land that adjoins the rivers is also dynamic
  • Weather and climate change, geologic processes, and human-caused factors such as air and water pollution

The park provides a "living laboratory" that helps us better understand how these environmental factors have shaped park landscapes and ecosystems. Park staff are monitoring changes in environmental factors to alert managers to threats to the resources, it is hoped, in time to prevent long-term damage.

Missouri River Recovery Program
Some of the development activities along the Missouri River, such as dams and levees, have come at the expense of the river's native fish and wildlife. Recently, a consortium of agencies and organizations, led by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have initiated a program to restore some of the river ecosystem's natural form and function. These activities will continue for decades.

Activities to restore some of the Missouri River ecosystem's natural form and function are under way and will continue for decades. Although the river will never be brought back to the wild, untamed form encountered by Lewis and Clark, its ecosystem can be revitalized for the benefit of all the basin's inhabitants.

More information:

Last updated: July 16, 2019

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