Coalition letter

Key actions must be taken this legislative session to stop Asian carp

On February 22nd, 2013, the coalition sent letter below to state legislative leaders and the Governor. The letter sets out the actions the coalition believes are necessary to truly stop the spread of Asian carp into Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, and underscores the urgency and need for decisive action this legislative session.  A PDF copy of this letter is also available.
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February 22, 2013
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Minnesota State Capitol
Senate Environment and Energy Committee
Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division Committee
House Environment and Natural Resources Policy Committee
House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance Committee
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St Paul, MN 55155

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Dear Committee Chairs and Committee Members:

On behalf of the undersigned coalition of organizations and our hundreds of thousands of members in Minnesota and nationwide representing conservation, environmental, sportsmen and women, and private property owners, we are writing to express our concern over Asian carp.

As you know, Minnesota is facing one of the greatest invasive species threats in decades: Asian carp. Governor Dayton held a summit at the Capitol this week to discuss strategies to address this threat. There is no question this is an urgent issue. Live Asian carp continue to be captured in the Mississippi River at points south of the Twin Cities, with the most recent capture just this week of at least two Silver carp south of Winona.We must stop Asian carp now – before they swim further north into Minnesota and cause irreparable harm to our rivers, lakes and streams that support the $11.6 billion a year recreation and tourism industry. Delay would be catastrophic for the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on Minnesota’s waters for their jobs and quality of life.

Given the urgent need for action, we are strongly advocating closing Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Lock #1 (Ford). These lock closures must also be combined with the most protective deterrent technology available downstream to protect all of Minnesota’s waters, including the Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers.

We know that closing locks is the only 100% effective way to stop Asian carp passage. However, we need federal legislation that will authorize and require lock closure. While our Congressional delegation works to pass this legislation and deterrent technologies continue to be debated in the State legislature, we can take actions now, this navigation season, to protect the thousands of miles of rivers and streams and thousands of lakes upstream.

Currently, there are three businesses that utilize the upper three locks for shipping. The State should immediately pursue negotiations with these businesses with the goal of reaching agreements that compensate them for voluntarily discontinuing use of the river for shipping as soon as possible and in anticipation of lock closure. Other modes, including rail, are available to those businesses, and the marginal cost difference between barging and other modes could well be a manageable and worthwhile expense for the State legislature to appropriate that would facilitate discontinued use of the locks by these businesses with no financial impact to them. In conjunction with this strategy, we must work to reduce recreational use of these locks by educating users about not using the locks and facilitating access to the Gorge, upstream of Lock #1. These are strategies that we can pursue right now as we wait for the needed authority to close these locks.

At the Governor’s Summit, there was also much debate about the different deterrent technologies available and their effectiveness in stopping Asian carp. Regardless of the technology used, these deterrents should be deployed in downstream locks such as Lock #19 at Keokuk, Iowa, where lock closure is impossible due to high volumes of river shipping. At downstream locks, even partially effective deterrents would have the benefit of protecting much more of the watershed, including the St. Croix and Minnesota River basins.

We thank you for your consideration and support for protecting Minnesota’s natural resources, economy and quality of life from an invasion from Asian carp. Please do not hesitate to contact our Coalition with questions or comments. You may reach coalition member Whitney Clark, Friends of the Mississippi River at wclark@fmr.org or (651) 222-2193 x 13, or see the full Coalition list below.

Sincerely,

STOP CARP COALITION

cc: Governor Mark Dayton
Minnesota Congressional Delegation
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Coalition Member Organizations:

Lance Ness, President
Anglers for Habitat
Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance

Darrell Gerber, Program Coordinator
Clean Water Action – Minnesota

Paul Austin, Executive Director
Conservation Minnesota

Whitney L. Clark, Executive Director
Friends of the Mississippi River

Barry K. Chouinard
FM Walleyes Unlimited, Inc.

Larry Dolphin, President
Izaak Walton League of America – MN Division

Scott Strand, Executive Director
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Barb Halbakken Fischburg, Executive Board
Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations (MN COLA)

Gary Botzek, Executive Director
Minnesota Conservation Federation

Jeff Forester, Executive Director
Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates

John P. Lenczewski, Executive Director
Minnesota Trout Unlimited

Katie Nyberg, Executive Director
Mississippi River FundDave Zentner, Past President
National Izaak Walton League

Christine Goepfert, Upper Midwest Program Manager
National Parks Conservation Association

Marc Smith, Senior Policy Manager
National Wildlife Federation

Don Arnosti, Policy Director
Audubon Minnesota

Richard Carlson and Ted Suss
New Ulm Area Sport Fishermen

John Peck, President
Central Minnesota Audubon Society

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