PORTAGE│Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller proposed a portion of federal funds used for Asian carp control efforts in the Great Lakes be offered to states as grants to contain or eradicate the invasive fish in their rivers and streams.
Zoeller spoke Tuesday at a meeting in Portage during which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discussed its report identifying eight options for preventing the spread of Asian carp and other invasive fish into the Great Lakes from Chicago's waterways and shipping canal.
His concern is the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study does not recommend any option and did not address the Wabash River or other Indiana rivers and streams where the carp already have invaded.
He said the options are too limited and states should receive federal grant support to pursue their own efforts in their own waterways. He said some of the study's options would cost billions of dollars and take many years to complete.
“My proposal is a simple one — use some of the federal funds already enacted or eventually approved to establish grants for the Great Lakes states,” Zoeller said. “The states then could undertake programs to determine how to push the highly mobile Asian carp back downstream to be potentially contained or removed and away from entrances to the Great Lakes.”
Many of the concerns of those at the meeting involved the cost and time of the options.
Five of the eight options come with an estimated completion time of 25 years and some of the billions of dollars in cost for several of the options would go to fixing Chicago infrastructure.
Jennifer Caddick, of the Alliance for the Great Lakes Alliance, compared it to “saying a birthday cake will cost $20,000 because you have to remodel your kitchen.”
Lynn Dennis, representing the Nature Conservancy in Indiana, said they continue to advocate for an interim two-way ecological separation solution implemented in a matter of years, not decades.
“We are concerned with the potential 25-year timetable for the proposed various solutions,” she said.
Dennis said the need for urgent action was highlighted recently when the conservancy and its partners found evidence Eurasian ruffe, a non-native species of fish already in the Great Lakes, may have spread to southern Lake Michigan and threatens to invade the Illinois River, the Mississippi River and beyond.
Lauren Fleer, the study's acting project manager, said the report is a tool for decision makers and not recommendations. Nor does it place one option over another.
Col. Frederick Drummond Jr., commander of the Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said it is going to develop solutions to the invasive fish problem.
“We built the Hoover Dam,” he said. “This is something that is within (our) control, but we’ve got to have public input on it because it impacts everybody. Your vote, your knowledge, your experience — all that that counts. You can talk to your state DNRs, you can talk to your representatives, congressional folks, senatorial folks — they’re all interested in your opinion. I would ask you share it with them.”
For more information on the report and to provide public comments through March 31, visit glmris.anl.gov.