Archive for April, 2010

Houston, we have a solution

April 14, 2010

I spent much of last week at NWF’s annual meeting in Houston, Texas, with affiliated organizations from 46 different states and Washington, D.C. While national issues like climate change took up most of the agenda, guess what caused the biggest stir? That’s right, Asian carp.

Everybody had heard about these huge flying fish, they knew the crisis facing the Great Lakes, and they wanted to know how to help.

They found a way. Several of our affiliates, led by Illinois’ Prairie Rivers Network and NWF Board member Clark Bullard (also from Illinois), proposed a resolution calling for hydrological separation of the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes basin, to be done as rapidly as possible. That resolution went through committee last week and was voted on by the all of the NWF affiliates.

The result? Unanimous approval.

Check out this television news segment and article from Chicago’s Fox News on NWF’s carp resolution.

 

Wildlife Federation Wants Drastic Anti-Carp Measures

Chicago – The National Wildlife Federation is calling for drastic steps to protect the Great Lakes from Asian Carp. The plan, approved unanimously at the federation’s national meeting in Houston, calls for setting up a barrier to separate Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River Basin.

The plan would once again reverse the flow of the Chicago River so it would empty into Lake Michigan.

The barrier could be set up out near Romeoville or Joliet, according to Clark Bullard, one of the Illinois representatives. Electric barriers now in place in the shipping canal currently serve as the barrier to keep the carp from migrating into Lake Michigan.

Read the rest of the story

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Too quiet on the Asian carp front

April 9, 2010

The cameras have stopped rolling. The national newspapers have stopped calling. The editorials have stopped opining.

But the Asian carp haven’t gone away.

In any long-term environmental crisis, this is the most dangerous time — after the initial rush of concern passes and the media begin looking at other stories. The profile of the issue declines, and so does the political will to address it.

We can’t let that happen here, but that trend certainly is a risk for the Great Lakes. The last major story on Asian carp is that they were NOT found beyond the electric barrier after 6 weeks of fishing and sampling by the Illinois DNR and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s not exactly a surprise, as most experts predicted that the odds of finding a live or dead fish in that stretch of the canals were quite low. But that story has the potential to take the pressure off the Corps and the other agencies who are supposed to be taking action quickly but haven’t:

  • The Corps had a deadline of “early March 2010” to develop a “modified lock operations” plan to reduce the chances of carp movement through the canals. That plan will determine the short-term actions needed to stop the carp right away, while a permanent solution is found. But the deadline for the plan has come and gone. When will we see the plan, and when will it go into effect?
  • The permanent solutions will be guided by a feasibility study on ecological separation of the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes that the Corps is supposed to be undertaking right now. There’s broad agreement that study needs to be completed within a year; the Corps says it needs two years, in part to get sufficient guidance from outside experts and the public. But so far, there’s been no effort by the Corps to line up that guidance or begin the study. When will the Corps get moving?

So far, the Asian carp have moved much faster than the government’s response to them…and that was when there was enormous media pressure for action.  As the media pressure lessens, the public needs to step in. The millions of members of our organizations, the cities, the tribes, the states, we all have to push for fast action. The Corps should understand: the carp aren’t going away, and neither are we.