Missouri River Bank Erosion on the Lower Brule Reservation

Science Center Objects

Project Period: 2011- ongoing
Cooperator: Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe
Project Chief: Ryan Thompson

Executive Summary

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (LBST) Environmental Protection Office’s Water Quality Program, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Oglala Lakota College, is monitoring a portion of the Missouri River’s shoreline for bank erosion. The Missouri River and the two lakes formed by the dams, Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case, form the northern and eastern boundary of the Lower Brule Reservation, located in central South Dakota. Shoreline erosion has occurred along a large portion of this border. LBST estimates that the Reservation is losing shoreline in some locations at a rate of approximately 8 feet per year. The study area for this project consists of a 7-mile stretch of shoreline near the Lower Brule community.


The objective of this study is to monitor changes in the shoreline during 2011-2012. Three technological resources will be used: Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) global positioning satellite equipment to establish precise shoreline location; ground-based Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) to map banks at selected locations; and a small unmanned aerial system (UAS) to record video and still pictures of the study area’s shoreline during the months of August.

Lower Brule

Lower Brule Reservation and Missouri River Bank Erosion Study Area

Data Release 

The U.S. Geological Survey Dakota Water Science Center, in cooperation with the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, have been collecting data to document shoreline erosion along Lake Sharpe and within the Lower Brule Reservation. A data release was published that includes data collected and compiled from four efforts: shorelines were digitized from existing available maps and aerial imagery to record shoreline locations over time, trail cameras were used to automatically collect photos of the shoreline over time and create time-lapse videos, bank location surveys were completed at intervals to record changes in the location of the top of bank over time, and an unmanned aerial system (drone) was used to collect imagery that was used to generate a basemap of the Lake Sharpe shoreline near Lower Brule, South Dakota. These datasets and their associated metadata are being made available to the public through this data release, which is available at https://doi.org/10.5066/F7H130XV.