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States, cities and individuals benefit greatly from a healthy and thriving Missouri River. Maintaining a healthy river, including protecting species that live along the river, is a top priority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Congress.
The survival of the endangered least tern and threatened piping plover is crucial to maintaining a thriving ecosystem on the Missouri River. While both shorebirds nest elsewhere as well, the sandbars of the Missouri River and reservoir shorelines are important to their overall survival. In 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated areas along much of the Missouri River as critical habitat for the piping plover. Both bird species prefer bare sandbars with little to no vegetation.