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Questions, frustration over delay in release of plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes

Questions, frustration over delay in release of plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes
March 2, 2017 Mary Ellen Geist

Where is the report?

That’s what policy director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office Marc Smith wants to know. Smith says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study to keep Asian carp from moving in to the Great Lakes has been underway for almost four years, and was due to be released earlier this week. He says it has bipartisan support, but for some reason, the Trump administration refuses to release it.

Smith tells Great Lakes Now, “This is the best chance we can get right now to put stronger protections in place. If this study is not put back on track, it could potentially cause a lot of damage.”

The draft report for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project near Joliet, Illinois was slated to be released Tuesday, February 28th.

Image courtesy of U.S. federal government via Wikimedia

United States Army Corps of Engineers logo, courtesy of U.S. federal government

Spokesperson for the Rock Island District of the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers, Allen Marshall, tells Great Lakes Now, “We had anticipated releasing the report yesterday but were informed further coordination is needed.”

Great Lakes Now asked Marshall if there was another scheduled date for the release of the report. He said, “There is no tentative second date.”

In that report are several recommendations to keep Asian carp from travelling above the Illinois river and in to the Great Lakes waterways.

Scientists say if Asian Carp get in to the Great Lakes in large numbers, they could gobble up food sources for many different species of plants, birds and fish, and the kind of Asian Carp that jump more than ten feet out of the water also create physical danger for boaters.

Photo courtesy of the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow via Wikimedia

Debbie Stabenow, courtesy of the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow

Michigan Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is accusing the Trump Administration of preventing the release of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study.

She says, “It’s extremely alarming that it appears the Trump administration has decided to delay the release of today’s plan which is a critical part of our efforts to stop Asian carp and other invasive species from reaching our Great Lakes.” Stabenow goes on to say, “It seems that the Administration has decided to side with a narrow group of special interests intent on preventing actions to address the movement of Asian Carp toward Lake Michigan.”

She is calling on the Trump administration for a full explanation.

Ohio Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman joined Senator Stabenow and ten other U.S. Senators from the Great Lakes in urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release the study as soon as possible. Senator Portman’s Press Secretary Emily Benavides tells Great Lakes Now, “For years, Senator Portman has joined his bipartisan colleagues in urging the Obama administration to complete this report, and he will do the same with the Trump administration. Lake Erie is a vital economic and environmental resource, and Senator Portman will continue his work on behalf of the Great Lakes region.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Paciorek, tells Great Lakes Now, “The Governor has repeatedly highlighted the need for urgent and robust protections of the Great Lakes from invasive carp. The Governor understands the new administration is taking time to fully understand a wide range of important infrastructure projects, and we look forward to working with them to ensure this project is given the attention it deserves and that the report is released as soon as possible.”

Great Lakes Now was unable to reach the White House for comment.

Marc Smith at The National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Office says no solid plan has been enacted since Asian carp DNA was first discovered in 2009 above the electrical barriers in Chicago, which were built to keep the invasive carp from getting in to Lake Michigan. He tells Great Lakes Now “delaying action on this study further opens the door for carp to keep swimming toward the Great Lakes.”

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