Detroit Free Press: Stabenow, Peters call for quicker action on Asian carp
WASHINGTON – Michigan’s U.S. senators are again urging the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly finish recommendations for blocking the spread of Asian carp at a key Chicago-area chokepoint in order to keep the invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes.
U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both D-Mich., sent Army Corps of Engineers’ head Jo-Ellen Darcy a letter today asking her agency to complete a study of measures which could be taken to stop carp from spreading north of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill.
Even though the Army Corps initiated the study in April 2015 saying it could take nearly four years to complete, Stabenow and Peters reiterated their concerns that the time frame is too long and asked that it be wrapped up this month so its conclusions can be finalized in a report due in 2019.
“It is unacceptable that the report and study (could) take 46 months to complete,” the two senators wrote Darcy, noting that construction of barriers at Brandon Road could take another five to 10 years, even if it is included in the so-called chief’s report expected in 2019.
“Given the importance of the regions’ ecological stability to the national economy and the proximity of Asian carp to the Great Lakes, time is of the essence to finalize this report, making it available to decision makers so that construction can begin as soon as it is authorized by the Congress,” they wrote.
Stabenow, Peters and others in the Michigan delegation have been clamoring for years that more needs to be done to ensure that Asian carp, already present in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, do not reach Lake Michigan, where it is feared the voracious species would upset the ecological balance.
At present, a series of electronic barriers closer to Lake Michigan are in place to keep bighead and silver carp – the two species otherwise known as Asian carp – from reaching the Great Lakes, but questions have been raised about their long-term effectiveness.
Meanwhile, environmentalists think putting control measures farther south at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River could be even more effective in stopping their spread. Silver carp larvae have been found south of there and about 47 miles from Lake Michigan.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the Corps taking action in Joliet, however. In November of last year, the Waterways Journal Weekly, a St. Louis-based publication covering the towing and barge industry, reported that the Inland Waterways Users Board, an advisory board to the Corps, is opposed to barriers there, saying they are unnecessary.
Stabenow and Peters said already there have been numerous studies which have taken years to complete and that the Corps should move ahead with this one as quickly as possible.
“The Brandon Road study and ultimately the Chief’s Report must be done swiftly and with a focus on recommending the best method to halt and permanently prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan,” they wrote.
By: Todd Spangler
Source: Detroit Free Press
Next Article Previous Article