Concerns Raised At State Hearing Over Great Lakes Invasives Fix

Feb 19, 2014

State lawmakers say they’re concerned that more isn’t being done by federal authorities to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. Those concerns were part of a joint legislative hearing involving four separate House and Senate committees. They took issue with a recent Army Corps of Engineers study. It outlined options and costs, but made no specific recommendations. The plans could run into the billions of dollars and take 25 years to complete.

Asian Carp has entered the Mississippi waterways. The non-native fish is a threat to the Great Lakes fisheries.

Lauren Fleer is with the Army Corps of Engineers. She says there are simply no quick solutions, and a lot of questions that still need to be answered:

“What impacts would result from the implementation of these alternatives, and how long does it actually take to build tunnels, to build reservoirs, and to build these infrastructures?”

The state’s invasive species chief says Michigan needs to have a short-term strategy for dealing with the Asian carp threat, as well as a crisis management plan.

“We’re talking about things in the interim that lower the risk, may not be the ultimate solution, but we have to be diligent every day in dealing with this issue,” said Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.

In the meantime, the state Department of Natural Resources says a third species of Asian carp is making its way up the Mississippi River system toward Lake Michigan.

Tammy Newcomb is a biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources. She says the Black Carp has made it almost as far as Saint Louis.

“So they are another carp that will do well in the Great Lakes,” she said. “They will eat someplace else in the food chain, so yet another yet that’s creeping its way up the waterway. So there’s your imminent threat that we see.”

Michigan lawmakers complained they detected no sense of urgency on addressing the economic and ecological threat posed by Asian carp. Their preference generally was to physically separate the Mississippi and Great Lakes systems.

The Army Corps of Engineers is soliciting public comment on its study through the end of March.