Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Groups Praise Senators For Asian Carp Control Efforts

May 24: Conservation and environmental groups praised U.S. senators for taking action to stop the movement of aquatic invasive species like the Asian carp between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. In a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Great Lakes senators are urging Congress to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study how to build a physical barrier between two of North America's largest freshwater ecosystems. The groups signing the letter included:
Alliance for the Great Lakes; Environment Illinois; Freshwater Future; Great Lakes United; Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; Prairie Rivers Network; and Sierra Club.
    The letter from the Senate Great Lakes Task Force to EPW Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) is signed by Great Lakes Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ronald Burris (D-IL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Carl Levin (D-MI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and George Voinovich (R-OH).

    Jack Darin, director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter said, "We applaud Sen. Durbin for his leadership in seeking a long-term  solution to the threat posed by Asian carp, and other invasive species, to Lake Michigan and our Illinois River system. For right now, we have little choice but to try to find and kill Asian carp, but the study Sen. Durbin and the other senators are calling for gives us hope for a permanent fix that won't require repeated poisonings of the Chicago River system."

    Among other items, the Senators request in their letter that the EPW Committee include in the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) now under consideration a provision to "authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement measures recommended in the Efficacy Study, authorized under section 3061 of WRDA 2007, authorize a study to separate watersheds, authorize measures to prevent the movement of aquatic nuisance species, purchase real estate, and provide improvements to making Barrier I a permanent barrier."

    In a separate release, Senator Durbin said, "Asian Carp has the potential to do great damage by threatening the native fish and natural wildlife of the lake and in turn, the economy of the entire Great Lakes region. I am glad to join my colleagues from the region in calling for this study and other measures to be included in the next Water Resources Development Act. We must continue working together to find a solution that will protect our lakes, while preserving jobs and promoting economic activity in the region." The issue of providing a permanent barrier via separating watersheds has been highly contentious between the State of Illinois and other Great Lakes states.
    Access a release from the groups and link to their letter and related information (click here). Access a release from Sen. Durbin that includes the letter from the Senators (click here).