MN: Third state carp summit refines new battle plan
St. Paul – State officials last week added details to their plans to stop Asian carp from making their way through Minnesota.
They proposed a variety of actions they say could prevent the spread of Asian carp north of Minneapolis; limit movement into the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers; better understand the fish; and limit the movement of Asian carp and other invasive fish species into Minnesota.
Among the specific, near-term methods are installing a bubble or sound barrier outside the lock chamber at Lock and Dam 1, and improving Mississippi River habitat and water quality to benefit native species.
The plan identifies just more than $22 million in funding needs for the Mississippi River around the Twin Cities; $10.5 million to study and potentially install a barrier at the mouth of the St. Croix; and $5.5 million for a barrier at Lock and Dam 19 in Keokuk, Iowa.
It also seeks authorization for emergency closure of Lock and Dam 1 if Asian carp are detected nearby. Officials outlined the plan at an Asian carp summit, the third of its kind held in recent months.
"We would like to move forward sooner rather than later with some of this," said Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, and chair of the environment committee in the House. "That was expressed, probably, the most strongly by (Gov. Mark Dayton) himself."
But not everyone agrees on the location of the barriers.
DNR officials, for example, say there should be barriers at Lock and Dam 1 at the St. Croix River mouth. The agency estimates the latter will cost $10 million.
McNamara wants a barrier at Lock and Dam 2, on the Mississippi just upstream of Hastings. It would be less expensive than the barrier the DNR is proposing for the St. Croix, and "potentially could offer protection for the entire Upper Mississippi and Minnesota river basins," he said.
Federal transportation funding could do some of the work, and the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has recommended $3 million to fight Asian carp, though that money is contingent on a 50 percent cost-share.
The Lessard-Sams council recommends to the Legislature how the fish and wildlife habitat portion of revenues generated by the Legacy Amendment should be spent. The group recently finalized its latest round of recommendations, and the Legislature is expected to discuss them during the upcoming session.
McNamara, an L-SOHC member, said it may be worthwhile to revisit the recommendations, which totalled $97 million.
"Doesn't it make sense that in that $97 million maybe we find a few more million to do additional protection?" he asked, noting "the states below us have not acted in a serious enough manner."
Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria and chair of the Senate environment committee, was cool to the idea. He also serves on the L-SOHC. Just getting the $3 million recommendation "came with a lot of resistance," he said.
Said Garry Leaf, of Sportsmen for Change: "Part of this is akin to spending Minnesota sales tax dollars to build a Packers stadium. The Lessard council recommended to have other money coming in from the federal government, other states – multiple sources – to share is this endeavor."