The Chicago Tribune ran a story about the economic damage that closing the locks would cause to the cities summer tourist industry. The Army Corps is considering limiting the number of times the locks are opened and closed to hamper the spread of the Asian carp into Lake Michigan. But worrying over this tourist season is short- term thinking because if the fish get a foothold in the canals and eventually the lakes the tourism industry will suffer a much more serious blow.
The reason is simple: no one will want to take tour boats through a sea of leaping 100 lb fish.
While lock closure is important, it certainly isn’t a fail safe and that is why we are also supporting beefing up the electronic barriers, building barriers to prevent flooding from carrying the fish from the Des Plaines River into the lakes and other immediate strategies. The best strategy is a long-term one that will permanently separate the two ecosystems in a way that still allows barges and tour boats to operate through the locks and creates more jobs in the process.
Everyone needs to be thinking long-term right now – it is best for the ecology and the economy. While it is easy to understand why folks that are concerned with feeding a family of four and paying the mortgage right now are concerned with right now; putting off the problem will only make it worse for them next year or the year after that when the entire industry is killed by these flying fish. If we do this right, there may be some initial pain but we can beat these invaders and limit the damage they do to our way of life.