Friday, December 17, 2010

2011 Framework Strategy & USACE Interbasin Study

Dec 16: The Obama Administration today announced a series of new measures to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, building on the unprecedented proactive plan to prevent this invasive species from developing self-sustaining populations in the Great Lakes that the Administration established in February 2010.

    The 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework adds 13 new initiatives to the comprehensive effort to combat Asian carp, including expanding eDNA testing capacity and developing cutting-edge biological controls and monitoring technology, among other measures. The original Framework, created in February 2010 and updated in May, established the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC), consisting of state and municipal agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. Coast Guard to synchronize the response to Asian carp.

    The original Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework included 32 Federally-funded initiatives, all of which have been completed or are underway. The 2011 Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework now includes 45 short- and long-term initiatives in an aggressive, multi-tiered strategy to combat Asian carp. New projects in the 2011 Framework include:

  • Validation of eDNA as an effective tool for monitoring and tracking Asian Carp through analysis and refinement of the eDNA processes to determine the number and distribution of positive detections of Asian carp.
  • Development of eDNA genetic markers to more accurately and efficiently detect Asian carp concentrations.
  • Expansion the USFWS lab in LaCrosse, WI to increase capacity of eDNA testing in all of the Great Lakes.
  • Development of alternate trap and net designs for Asian carp.
  • Development of rapid genetic-based methods to detect Asian carp to allow for faster results than eDNA.
  • Evaluation of the affect of removing Asian carp food sources by reducing phosphorus and nitrogen from waste water treatment plant discharges into the CAWS/Upper Illinois Watershed.
  • Assessment of the impact of steel hulled barges on the electric barriers.
  • Evaluation of a permanent separation between the Wabash-Maumee watersheds.
    In a related matter, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in consultation with other Federal agencies, Native American tribes, state agencies, local governments and non-governmental organizations, announced more meetings and public hearing opportunities as part of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) pursuant to Section 3061(d) of Water Resources Development Act of 2007 [See WIMS 11/16/10]. GLMRIS is exploring options and technologies, collectively known as aquatic nuisance species (ANS) controls, that could be applied to prevent ANS transfer between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through aquatic pathways.
    As part of the GLMRIS a series of NEPA public scoping meetings will be held in both basins during January and February 2011, along with the opportunity to submit comments online through March 31, 2011 [extended from previous 2/28/11]. Persons wishing to speak at the meetings need to"Register to Speak" which also can be done online. Two meetings are scheduled for Michigan: Traverse City, January 27; and Ann Arbor, February 3. Specific venues will be announced soon.
    Access the ACRCC website (click here). Access a release on the new 2011 Framework (click here). Access the complete 2011 Framework (click here). Access the GLMRIS website for complete information on the study (click here). Access complete information on the NEPA scoping meeting including registration, commenting, contacts, available materials and more (click here).

MI & States Appeal Asian Carp PI Denial

MI & States Appeal Asian Carp PI Denial - Dec 16: Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced his office has filed a notice of appeal from the first preliminary court ruling in his lawsuit to stop the advance of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Attorneys general from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania signed on to Michigan's notice, which was filed December 16, in Federal District Court in Chicago. The Great Lakes states are appealing a December 2, 2010 ruling that denied Michigan's motion for preliminary injunction (PI), which called for several immediate actions.  

    Cox said, "Although our suit continues to move forward, the urgent threat that Asian carp pose requires that we aggressively pursue this preliminary injunction. Until the federal government takes effective action, Michigan and our Great Lakes partners will take full advantage of every opportunity we have to ensure our livelihood is not destroyed by Asian carp."

    The notice of appeal filed today requests the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals review the district court ruling of December 2, 2010. In that ruling, Federal District Court Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. denied Michigan's motion for preliminary injunction, which called for the temporary closure of the O'Brien and Chicago Locks and blocking other pathways in the Chicago water system, except as needed to protect public health and safety, among other actions. Cox indicated that the need for the preliminary injunction, which would stop Asian carp as the rest of the suit is considered, was made clear by the recent capture of a live bighead carp beyond any current barriers. Meanwhile, the preliminary ruling did not halt consideration of the merits of the Great Lakes states' lawsuit. A status conference scheduled for January 7, 2011 will determine future proceedings at the district court level. 
    Attorneys general from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio first joined Cox in filing his lawsuit on July 19, 2010, due to what he said was "the Army Corps' dismal record of inaction in confronting Asian carp." The lawsuit calls for the Corps to use all available efforts to block Asian carp passage in the waterways linked to Lake Michigan, subject to exceptions to prevent flooding, allow access for emergency responders and any other action necessary to prevent serious threats to public health and safety. 
    The Permanent Prevention of Asian Carp Act and the CARP Act, both sponsored by U.S Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), still await action by Congress [See WIMS 6/30/10]. The legislation mirrors Michigan's motion for preliminary injunction, calling for temporary closure of the locks to protect the Great Lakes and requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite a study to determine the best way to permanently separate the Mississippi River Basin from Lake Michigan. Earlier this year, Cox petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and address the threat of Asian carp. The Supreme Court declined the take up the case but did not rule on the merits of the legal claims by Michigan and other Great Lakes states.
    Access a release from the Attorney General (click here).