Great Lakes groups call on U.S. Senate to adopt Sen. Stabenow’s Stop Asian Carp Amendment

A coalition of Great Lakes conservation groups is calling on the U.S. Senate to approve the Stop Asian Carp Amendment as part of the 2012 federal budget.

In a Dec. 9  letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the groups urged passage of the Stop Asian Carp Amendment. Proposed by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, the amendment would direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite its study of how best to stop the movement of Asian carp and other invasive species between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins.

The letter came as Minnesota is scrambling to keep Asian carp in the Mississippi River from invading some of that state’s most popular lakes. Minnesota officials recently discovered that Asian carp had spread beyond the Coon Rapids Dam near Minneapolis.

Asian carp decimate native fish species and threaten the safety of boaters.

“The Stop Asian Carp amendment is necessary if our nation is to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from taking over our Great Lakes or Mississippi River,” the groups said in a letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye and Sen. Thad Cochran, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. (Read the complete letter here).

The Corps plans to complete its Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS)  in 2015. The Stop Asian Carp Amendment would require the Corps to complete it within 18 months.

Congress authorized the study in 2007 but the Corps didn’t begin working on it until 2009.  The Corps is studying the feasibility of options to prevent the inter-basin transfer of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

The conservation groups said the Asian carp threat is too serious to allow the Corps to spend another four years studying the problem.

“Without the oversight this amendment brings, the Army Corps’ own deadline could easily slip, much as it has with other investigations and projects,” the groups said in the letter. “It took the Army Corps 15 years to study, build, and activate three electrical arrays to repel Asian carp from swimming towards Lake Michigan through the Chicago Waterway System – even as the urgency of the carp invasion had become obvious and too great to ignore.”

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Akron Beacon Journal recently published editorials urging Congress to support the Stop Asian Carp Amendment.

The groups that signed the letter included: Alliance for the Great Lakes; Freshwater Future; Great Lakes United; National Parks Conservation Association; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; Ohio Environmental Council; Prairie Rivers Network; Save The River; Friends of the Chicago River; Sierra Club; Save the Dunes; Great Lakes Environmental Law Center; Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council; The Lake Erie Center; Clinton River Watershed Council; River Alliance of Wisconsin; Flow for Water; American Rivers; Minnesota Conservation Federation; Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters; Milwaukee Riverkeeper; Ohio Division, Izaak Walton League of America; Nature Abounds; Shaker Lakes Garden Club; Clean Wisconsin; Michigan United Conservation Clubs; The Watershed Center – Grand Traverse Bay; Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes; Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester Global Environment Committee; Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Audubon Ohio; Clean Water Action; River Network; Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition; Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance; and Sierra Club Ontario.

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