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The longest river in the United States, the Missouri River flows 2,341 miles through Montana and the Great Plains to its confluence with the Mississippi River near Saint Louis, Missouri. The river supplies water for residential use, irrigation, hydroelectricity, and shipping, as well as outdoor recreation and habitat for fish and wildlife. The Missouri's length and volatility have posed problems in balancing these multiple uses. Political battles rage between diverse water users as well as upstream and downstream interest groups. The complex mix of riparian landownership and river management has created additional political struggles over the river, especially between government agencies with competing missions.
The Missouri River basin covers an area of over 529,000 square miles, draining rivers in the northern Great Plains and the northern ...