Throwing tax dollars at a sad situation

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist displays an Asian silver carp. (Photo by Mike Schoonveld)

I outlined the problem with the government’s “tentative” solution to keeping Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes in a recent column in Michigan Outdoor News. I say “tentative” in quotes, because that’s what the Army Corps of Engineers planners call it – tentative.

It’s somewhat tentative because of uncertainty about whether or not it will actually solve the problem. Though costly, it relies heavily on untried, unproven technology.

Secondly, it’s tentative just because it’s costly. Evidently, the Corps realizes they don’t have the unlimited resources (meaning dollars) available to actually deliver this $257 million boondoggle, nor to fund it’s $8 million per year operation and maintenance.

No matter, other politicians are coming to the rescue. Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced the creation of a new Great Lakes Basin Partnership to block Asian carp. The partnership hopes it will finagle enough strategic and financial resources to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “Tentatively Selected Plan” (TSP).

If the feds (meaning Army Corps) can’t find the money, maybe the states (and Canadian Provinces) can. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Ontario are the founding members of this partnership. It’s hoped that Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York and Quebec will join.

With the three founding states and Ontario owning more than 90 percent of the surface area of the Great Lakes, it’s doubtful recruiting the others to chip in meaningful amounts is going to be an easy task. Minnesota is out because its Great Lake (Superior) is the least likely to become infested. Quebec is likely to be reluctant to join at a significant level since it doesn’t even have a Great Lake, just the St. Lawrence River, which drains the lakes. Indiana, Pennsylvania and New York are Great Lake small-fries, at best, leaving Illinois.

Illinois is the problem. It’s where the problem lies, it’s where the resistance to a proper solution – some say any solution – is greatest. Plus, Illinois is a pauper-state. The best the partnership could expect is a bad check from them.

But, golly, doesn’t it seem like Snyder, the other states, the Army Corps and the rest of the bureaucracy is moving forward on the issue. After all, there’s now a website (BlockAsianCarp.org).

And a promise of throwing tax dollars at this sad situation.

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