Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NRDC Reports On Problems With Asian Carp Electric Barrier

Feb 28: Thom Cmar a Chicago attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) indicated in a blog posting that an attorney for the Army Corps is saying that the Corps had decided to finalize and release a study related to the Asian Carp issue and the effectiveness of the electric barrier known as the Smith-Root report on electric barrier operating parameters." Reportedly, the Corps will release the study "by mid-March."
    Cmar said, "This is a small victory for transparency in what has often felt like an opaque decision making process around the Asian carp issue…  one in which the Army Corps does not seem to move with the urgency that the threat to the Great Lakes seems to require. I have little doubt that the combination of Dan Egan's article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and our threat of a FOIA lawsuit on behalf of Prairie Rivers Network, played a big role in persuading the Army Corps to release this report more quickly than it originally planned."
    He indicates that, since last October, the Army Corps has had the study in its hands, by contractors from Smith-Root Inc. who worked at the Corps' Vicksburg, MS lab to determine how effective the electric barriers should be when operated at different parameters. But the Corps had continued to say that the study was still a draft and not yet formally approved and therefore they did not have to release it.
    Cmar indicates that Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the Corps has refused to release the study report even to its own independent technical advisory panel – even though, at the same time, it insists that the report shows that the electric barriers are working to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. However, Dan Egan's reporting also uncovered that the "still-secret report" does not even attempt to examine whether the electric barriers will work to stop juvenile fish smaller than 6 inches from swimming past it and into Lake Michigan
    So, Cmar says, "the Army Corps' current plan for keeping Asian carp out of Lake Michigan is based on a series of "questionable assumptions:  that the electric barriers are working, that Asian carp DNA found past the barriers does not prove otherwise, and that there are no small juvenile Asian carp currently attempting to cross the barrier."
    Access the complete detailed posting from Cmar with links to the Egan article and extensive additional information (click here).

Ann Arbor Area Meeting On Great Lakes & Mississippi River Study

Mar 1: On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is holding two public scoping meetings in Ypsilanti from 2:00 to 8:00 PM at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest to gather input on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). The public is invited to attend these scoping meetings and to provide comments on GLMRIS. Identical presentations about the study will be given at 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM, each followed by the comment period. The purpose of GLMRIS is to evaluate a range of options and technologies to prevent the transfer of aquatic nuisance species (ANS), such as Asian carp, between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River through aquatic pathways.

    Using input obtained during the scoping period, the Corps will refine the scope of GLMRIS to focus on significant issues, as well as eliminate issues that are not significant from further detailed study. Issues associated with GLMRIS are likely to include, but will not be limited to: significant natural resources, such as ecosystems and threatened and endangered species; commercial and recreational fisheries; recreational uses of the lakes and waterways; effects of potential ANS controls on waterways uses such as: flood risk management, commercial and recreational navigation; and statutory and legal responsibilities relative to the effected waterways. The Ann Arbor area meeting is the last one before the public scoping comment period ends on March 31, 2011.
    Access a meeting announcement from the Corps with contact information (click here). Access complete information regarding GLMRIS, the meeting agenda and scoping requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (click here).