The Control of the Missouri: Ideker and the Fight for the Floodplain

Presentation by Robert Langellier, freelance journalist

Robert Langellier will share his research into the science, policy, facts and people behind the Ideker Lawsuit. In this 2014 lawsuit, a federal judge ruled that some recent flooding along the Missouri River is due to U.S. Corps of Engineers management and the Corps can be held liable for some damages. The lawsuit has become an important factor in the response to the 2019 flood.

Published: February 25, 2020

Boyer Chute Flooding
This photo is looking downstream where Boyer Chute enters the Missouri River, just north of Omaha, NE. photo copyright 2019 by Robert Langellier.

Hosted by Healthy Rivers Partnership

The Missouri River flood of 2019 has particularly impacted farmers and agricultural communities in the Missouri River floodplain. This pain is increasing calls from politicians and constituents to do more to stop flooding. There is a belief amongst some people that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has changed river management to benefit fish and wildlife, and that this has caused increased flooding. One piece of evidence that is often cited to support this idea is the Ideker lawsuit.

In 2014, 372 Missouri River valley farmers filed a class-action suit, Ideker Farms v. United States of America, claiming that the US Army Corps of Engineers has taken farmers’ property through flooding caused by habitat restoration programs undertaken since 2004. In 2018, the judge in the case ruled partly in favor of the farmers, but the science underlying their ongoing case is controversial.

We were joined by freelance journalist Robert Langellier, who has been traveled the Missouri River valley last year during the flood interviewing many parties involved in the lawsuit, scientists studying the river’s hydrology, the Corps officials charged with managing water flow, floodplain farmers and conservationists. Robert said, “We’ll try to understand that complex science (I once thought hydrology was as simple as ‘water flows down’!). We’ll also discuss the case’s implications for Missouri River management through the perspectives of farmers, Army Corps engineers, environmentalists and barge shippers.”

Robert Langellier is a freelance writer who recently published a piece on the Ideker lawsuit in The New Territory magazine, the “autobiography of the Lower Midwest”. He has published pieces in Esquire (about long haul trucking and python hunters), The NationThe AwlKansas City Star and others.

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The Big Muddy Speakers Series in Kansas City

is hosted by these wonderful partners!

Thanks to all of our venue hosts for making this possible! Click here for a list of upcoming presentations» The Big Muddy Speaker Series is also held monthly in Rocheport and St. Charles.

Recordings of Presentations

Kansas City Digital Video will be recording this Big Muddy Speaker Series presentation. KCDV has recorded a stunning collection of BMSS talks. They are available on their website at this link and on their YouTube channel (amongst other recordings). These are very high quality recordings and represent a treasure of knowledge about the Missouri River and the natural history of Kansas City.


The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Healthy Rivers Partnership, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.


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