State Reps. Kent Smith (D– Euclid) and John Rogers (D– Mentor-on-the-Lake) today announced legislation to urge Congress to support federal funding for the United States Army Corps of Engineers in its efforts to stop Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.
Asian carp is an invasive species that is on the brink of making its way into the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie. This particular fish poses a significant risk to the Great Lakes ecosystem as they are large, extremely prolific and consume massive amounts of food, which threatens population levels of native species such as walleye. If left unaddressed, the presence of Asian carp will harm the Great Lakes region’s annual $7 billion sport and commercial fishing industry and $16 billion recreational boating industry.
“We will either stop Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock, or we will wish we did,” said Smith. “Our Great Lakes and billions of dollars in economic activity hang in the balance. The longer we wait, the greater the threat of an ecosystem catastrophe.”
In 2014, The United States Army Corp of Engineers released the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) outlining a variety of plans to prevent the transfer of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds. Following the release of the report, the Army Corp of Engineers commissioned an evaluation and plan to implement structural control technologies at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois.
To fully fund and support the plan, the United States Army Corp of Engineers will require congressional authorization of federal funding to complete their study and implement the project. This legislation urges Congress to support full federal funding for GLMRIS and the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.
“In Ohio alone, Lake Erie is a vital economic engine - creating 100,000 tourism related jobs in Northern Ohio,” said Rogers. “As one of our nation’s greatest freshwater water resources, the lake not only provides drinking water for 3 million Ohioans, it is also responsible for generating $750 million in state and local taxes, attracting 1.5 million hunters and anglers who alone spend $2 billion in Ohio. If we fail as a nation to address this growing threat, the damage caused by this invasive species will be irreversible.”
The United States Army Corp of Engineers has bipartisan federal support for this project as both Democratic and Republican members of Congress are pushing for the completion of this study and project. There is bipartisan support for this project at the state level as well, with both Democrats and Republicans signing on as co-sponsors of Representative Smith’s and Representative Rogers’ legislation.