especially if such actions can also be shown to provide broader aquatic ecosystem restoration benefits.
Reform of programs in the federal water project construction agencies might also serve aquatic ecosystem restoration. Expanded legislative authority and budget appropriations should be given to the federal water project construction agencies (Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Soil Conservation Service, and Tennessee Valley Authority) for restoration activities. Indeed, there has already been some movement in this direction. The Bureau of Reclamation has been positioning itself to manage natural resources, rather than project construction. The Water Resources Development Acts of 1986 and 1990 have directed COE to raise "environmental protection" to the same status as traditional agency missions. Recent COE budget guidance establishes "restoration" as a priority output. However, the legislative and administrative language is too focused on fish and wildlife. For example, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990 authorizes COE to undertake fish restoration activities. The role of water resource agencies in restoration needs to be expanded to the hydrologic structure of watersheds, with COE projects oriented to restoring hydrologic conditions, not fisheries or habitat alone.
In addition, the purposes of some federally funded and constructed water development projects may long since have been served, and they are aging. In cases where the economic and environmental costs of maintenance exceed the benefits, the planned phaseout or dismantling of project levees, dams, channel revetments, or other works—through active removal, reduced maintenance, or benign neglect—could provide major opportunities for aquatic ecosystem restoration. Congress should amend the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and other acts, authorizing the federal water development agencies to identify such projects and plan for their deconstruction. Federal development funds that are saved, and other programs such as the Agricultural Wetland Reserve Program, could be used to acquire easements on private lands that could be affected hydrologically by such deconstruction. One possibility for deconstruction could be the locks and dams on the Missouri River. Based on their use for navigation, continued federal maintenance of those structures may not be justified economically, and the long-term environmental benefits of reestablishing major sections of the river to free-flowing status and restoring riparian wetland habitat could be great. The type of restoration