Too quiet on the Asian carp front

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.

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One Response to “Too quiet on the Asian carp front”

  1. Thomas Marks Says:

    The entire response going back to when they first escaped into the Mississippi River has been pathetic. From or “darn” they are loose to lets stop them to now control the carp… and out of control Army Corps, US Fish and Wildlife, Illinois DNR have all squandered any chance to prevent the asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. We had over 15 years to use control methods when since first escaped none were found. We had tens years to build electrical, ecological and hydrological barrier but theyu were never completed and failed. Why should we have any bit of confidence in the ability of any of the involved agencies to execute a plan to control the asian carp population?

    It has always been about money … how much can be gotten and if we can get rich. Probably all that could be milked out of the Federal government for barriers has been gotten. Control on the otherhand is a never ending money stream because it has to be forever. That is the American way!

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