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Before 1900, the Missouri–Mississippi River system transported an estimated 400 million metric tons per year of sediment from the interior of the United States to coastal Louisiana. During the last two decades (1987–2006), this transport has averaged 145 million metric tons per year. The cause for this substantial decrease in sediment has been attributed to the trapping characteristics of dams constructed on the muddy part of the Missouri River during the 1950s. However, reexamination of more than 60 years of water- and sediment-discharge data indicates that the dams alone are not the sole cause. These dams trap about 100–150 million metric tons per year, which represent about half the decrease in sediment discharge...