Friday, February 02, 2018

3 states and a province back plan to keep carp out of Great Lakes; key site is in Illinois, which isn't on board yet

Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario are teaming up to help keep invasive Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. Other states and provinces on the lakes (Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Quebec) have not joined.

"The initiative would support upgrades to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill., a key choke point between the carp-infested Mississippi River watershed and Lake Michigan," John Flesher reports for The Associated Press. "A $275 million draft plan released last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would attempt to block the carps' path toward the lake with a gauntlet of devices, including an electric barrier, noisemakers, and water jets." Illinois has resisted the plan, fearing that it would disrupt freight shipping.

If the carp make it into the lakes, they could out-compete native species and destroy a $7 billion fishing industry. One adult carp was found last June in the Little Calumet River in Chicago, just nine miles from Lake Michigan.

The Brandon Road plan could begin construction as soon as 2022 and be completed three years later. It calls for the federal government to pay for 65 percent of the $270 million projected cost of the project and for "partners outside the federal government to pay about $8 million a year for operation and maintenance once the system is up and running. Coalition members would share those costs for five years while seeking other long-term sources," Flesher reports. Each state and province's contribution would be proportional to the amount of Great Lakes area it contains. Michigan has more than 40 percent of the lakes' surface area so it would pay the most, followed by Ontario with 36 percent, Wisconsin with 10 percent and Ohio with 4 percent.

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