Asian carp war strategy: $60 million
Chicago — Detecting Asian carp, developing a poison that would affect them but not other fish and taking a close look at a key lock and dam near Joliet.
The price tag: $60 million.
That’s what government agencies plan to spend over the next two years in the ongoing war against Asian carp, which pose a threat to Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. On June 30, the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee released its 2015 strategy, designed to strengthen carp defenses at Lake Michigan while blocking the carps’ path downstream toward the Mississippi River.
Committee Co-Chairman Cameron Davis said the strategy includes a study of lock and dam controls at Joliet – a waterway system that forms a choke point between the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds.
Also on tap is the continued development of methods of detecting Asian carp, such as “particles that would be toxic to them but not to other fish,” the committee explained in its broad yet detailed report titled the “2015 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework.”
The plan outlines the steps federal, state and provincial partners will take in the fight against Asian carp, an ACRCC news release stated.
More of an overall strategic plan, the Framework highlights nearly $60 million in projects, $16 million of which will be funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, to safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp.
More than $318 million has been spent by ACRCC on research, control and monitoring efforts since it was formed in 2009.
“We’re moving the fight against Asian carp from our back yard down the alley,” Davis, who is also senior adviser to the administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said. “To protect the lakes, this Framework shores up our defenses near the Great Lakes and focuses our efforts further downstream toward the Mississippi River.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley said his agency will continue to be actively involved, noting, “At the request of our state partners, we will continue to provide our technical assistance in Great Lakes monitoring efforts.”
Key initiatives in the new plan include advancing a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study on new controls at Brandon Road Lock and Dam at Joliet, refining detection and control technologies, and continuing efforts to suppress fish populations through netting.
“Operating the electric barrier system, undertaking Asian carp monitoring and beginning the Brandon Road phase of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study are key components in the Corps’ efforts to keep Asian carp from establishing in the Great Lakes,” Col. Christopher Drew, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District, said.
Along with the Framework, or strategic plan, the ACRCC also released the annual Monitoring and Response Plan for Asian carp in the Upper Illinois River and Chicago Area Waterway System – which were described as similar to prior years.
“The focus continues to be on monitoring and removal of bighead and silver carp downstream of the Electric Barrier System in the Chicago Area Waterway System and the upper Illinois Waterway, as well as ongoing evaluations of the effectiveness of barriers and gears used to keep Asian carp from establishing in the CAWS and Lake Michigan,” the ACRCC release stated. “Additionally, crews will conduct heightened evaluations surrounding Brandon Road Lock and Dam as a potential future control point, consistent with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study findings.”
In December 2009, reports that a bighead Asian carp was found in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal just above the Lockport Lock and Dam, in the wake of a massive effort to poison fish in the canal. It was the first physical specimen that has been found in the canal since testing earlier this year suggested the presence of Asian carp in the area – an area that is just a few miles from Lake Michigan.