Asian carp study will finally see the light of day

“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance…”

– James Madison, fourth American president

Next Monday August 7th, we will finally gain knowledge.

We will gain knowledge of options that federal officials have been studying to protect our Great Lakes from an Asian carp invasion.

After six long months of waiting, a draft study that looks at options to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes will finally see the light of day.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) first announced the Brandon Road Lock and Dam study in April 2015 as part of the ongoing Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin (GLMRIS) Study to prevent the two-way transfer of invasive species (including Asian carp) between both basins. This study is intended to determine the possibility of establishing preventative measures against an invasion of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

The draft study had been expected in February 2017, but the Trump Administration announced they were delaying its release.  Without the public’s and Congress’s ability to review what options the Corps was studying, we were sitting in the dark without knowledge.  As we were kept waiting, the carp kept swimming closer to Lake Michigan.

carp map PRN

A live silver carp was found this June 2017 on the Lake Michigan side of the electrical barriers…raising the urgency for action. Map courtesy of Prairie Rivers Network.

Delaying the scheduled release, as you can imagine, sparked questions and serious frustrations.  Immediately, many Members of Congress (Republicans and Democrats) put aside their partisan differences and joined together calling upon the White House to release the report. While these lawmakers deserve much credit and appreciation for their vigilant efforts, the voices of hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the Great Lakes were instrumental in demanding this draft report be released.

Keep in mind this is just a draft study….halfway through an originally scheduled 3 year study.  So, we have a long process ahead of us before any action could possibly happen.  But, this is where we are.  Having this knowledge will empower us to review and provide our input into the final phase of the Corps study.

While the Brandon Road study will hopefully identify options that provide additional protection against Asian carp getting into the Great Lakes, it’s not enough to solve the overall problem.   Adding preventative controls at Brandon Road can only stop the upstream movement of certain species (including Asian carp) toward the Great Lakes. Brandon Road can never prevent the two-way movement of all species, and so will not protect against dozens of aquatic invasive species threatening the Mississippi River Basin.  A permanent, effective two-way solution is still needed.

The importance of protecting our vulnerable Great Lakes and all its freshwater from this voracious invasive species cannot be overstated.  Lets just hope that the release of this study will advance us closer to a feasible solution in order to protect the economic viability of the Great Lakes region’s $7 billion sport fishing industry, $16 billion boating industry, and $18 billion hunting and wildlife watching market.

 

Joint Statement on Planned Release of Brandon Road Draft Study to Stop Asian Carp 

(July 31, 2017) — On Friday, July 28, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would release the long-awaited draft study on options to improve defenses against Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, on August 7. The draft study had been expected in February 2017, but the Trump administration announced they were delaying its release on February 28. The Great Lakes congressional delegation and conservation groups including the Indiana Wildlife Federation, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Minnesota Conservation Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Conservation Federation, Prairie Rivers Network, and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation have been calling for the release of the draft study since then.

The following is an on-the-record joint statement from the Indiana Wildlife Federation, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Minnesota Conservation Federation, National Wildlife Federation, Ohio Conservation Federation, Prairie Rivers Network, and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation in response to the planned release of the Brandon Road draft study:

“After months of unnecessary delay, we are excited that the potential options for improving defenses against Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam will see the light of day. The voices of hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts were instrumental in demanding this draft report be released.  In addition, we are greatly appreciative for the vigilance of our Congressional champions in the Great Lakes region in keeping the protection of our Great Lakes fisheries and way of life at the top of their priorities. There is still much work yet to be done in this process. We look forward to working towards securing stronger protections to keep Asian carp out of our Great Lakes.” 

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