A PROBLEM WE CAN SOLVE
We must stop Invasive Asian carp’s upstream progress before it is too late—both immediate and long-term action is needed to protect Minnesota and Wisconsin’s waters and the Great Lakes. Federal, state and local governments need to work together to quickly plan, advocate for and implement responsible action steps to prevent the destruction of fish habitat in our treasured lakes and rivers from Invasive Asian carp.
Since the Stop Carp Coalition formed in 2011, a number of solutions to this problem have been pursued. The Minnesota DNR and others have put significant resources into addressing the problem through ongoing research, monitoring and hiring commercial fisherman to catch Bighead and Silver Carp, the two species of greatest concern. The University of Minnesota established the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISC). In addition to exploring the potential for lock modifications to deter Invasive Asian carp from migrating upstream at Locks 2, 5 & 8, they are conducting laboratory studies to develop and test other deterrent methods and the potential for a biological control.
A few big changes have taken place at the federal level as well. In 2014, the U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources & Reinvestment Development Act (WRRDA), which included two provisions that benefit the fight to stop Invasive Asian Carp. The Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock will close by June 10, 2015, providing the much needed and virtually fail safe protection from Invasive Carp entering the Mississippi River watershed north of Minneapolis. The 2014 WRRDA Act also required that the federal efforts to protect the Great Lakes from Invasive Asian carp encompass a broader area, including the Mississippi and Ohio River Watersheds.
THERE IS MUCH MORE TO DO!
We have made some progress, but there is still a great deal more that is needed in terms of identifying and implementing solutions to the Invasive Asian carp problem. The Stop Carp Coalition continues to advocate for a multi-pronged approach that focuses on several objectives:
- SLOW and/or STOP the spread of Invasive Asian carp into the Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers
- Closing the lock in downtown Minneapolis will not protect two extremely important rivers and their watersheds. The Minnesota River joins the Mississippi at Ft. Snelling and the St. Croix joins up with the Mighty Miss at Hastings, MN and Prescott, WI. The best strategies to prevent Invasive Carp from entering these river systems are to install deterrents or make modifications at Lock 5 in Winona and/or Lock 8 near LaCrosse, WI and LaCrescent, MN. The University and Minnesota DNR are focused on Lock 8 because it is the southernmost lock in Minnesota, and would therefore provide the most upstream protection. They are testing sound barriers at this location and the initial results are very promising. Invasive Carp are much more sensitive to sound at certain frequencies than native fish species, so these deterrents could keep most, if not all of the invasive carp from moving upstream into Pool 8. There may also be some “backdoor” pathways to the Minnesota River from the Missouri River Watershed or Iowa’s Great Lakes, so continued monitoring and research is needed to protect this very vulnerable watershed.
- SLOW and/or STOP the spread of Invasive Asian carp into the Mississippi River Gorge in Minneapolis and Saint Paul
- The area from St. Anthony Falls to the Minnesota River is the only true gorge on the entire length of the Mississippi River. Paddling along the steep forested bluffs and quiet sandy beaches of the Mississippi Gorge, it is easy to forget you are in the heart of a major metropolitan area. It is also home to two rowing clubs. Silver Carp would be particularly devastating to the Gorge if they arrived, as their jumping behavior could put a huge damper on water recreation in this very special place.
- In hopes of minimizing the ability of Invasive Asian carp to reach the gorge, the Stop Carp Coalition is encouraging boaters to visit our Take Action page to learn more. Another strategy that will help is to reduce the level of service at Lock #1 to the lowest level—by appointment only. The Army Corps of Engineers reviewed the level of service last fall and reduced the hours of operation from 19 hours a day to 12 hours a day. The Stop Carp Coalition and others, including the City of Minneapolis and Congressman Keith Ellison, urged the Corps to reduce the level further in light of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock closure. Not only would this reduce the risk of Invasive Asian carp, it would also save taxpayer funds. It is worthwhile to continue to put pressure on the Corps to make this change, as they review levels of service annually.
- PREVENT breeding populations from getting established in Minnesota and Wisconsin
- Right now the upstream range of breeding populations for Bighead and Silver Carp, also known as the “Invasion Front,” is in southern Iowa. The strategies being pursued at Lock #8 will play an important role in keeping the invasion front out of Minnesota, but greater inter-state cooperation between Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota is needed to deploy strategies further downstream. MAISC’s research on modifying lock and dam operations throughout the system can help all three states ensure that carp deterrent technology is redundant.
- PREVENT Black Carp from spreading into Iowa
- Lock & Dam #19 at Keokuk, Iowa is a high dam where controls could be installed in the lock chamber. Presently, Invasive Asian carp occur in far greater numbers downstream of Keokuk, and so far Black Carp have not been found upstream of the lock. Black Carp feed on snails and mussels and could have a devastating effect on native mussel populations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is a high priority solution, but one that Minnesota and Wisconsin cannot achieve without inter-state cooperation.