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The Challenge of Asian Carp Control Assignment


President Obama last week signed the transportation bill he hopes will put thousands of construction workers on job sites.

The law also carries some unexpected “environmental” clout.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence learned more about what SOME are calling “The Asian Carp Act.”

The Army Corps of Engineers set up and monitors a series of barriers on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, meant to keep Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan.

The Corps also promised to deliver a range of options to address the carp threat by year’s end 2013.

Under the provision in the transportation bill, its deadline does not change, but the Corps must now come up with a single comprehensive plan designed to permanently halt the spread of any aquatic nuisance species between the Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes.

A public meeting on Asian carp control in Chicago Wednesday, featuring a half dozen scientists from multiple agencies, revealed how daunting the task might be.

For instance, Army Corps fish biologist Kelly Baerwaldt says when evidence of Asian carp DNA is detected in the water, much remains to be understood.

“Is it a live fish, could be; it could also be some other things that we’re exploring and this is where our eDNA calibration study comes in play. We’re working very closely with the USGS as well as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the objective is to reduce the uncertainty, or improve our understanding of eDNA results,” Baerwaldt says.

The Army Corps of Engineers has 90 days to provide Congress with a progress report, including how much it will cost to come up with a permanent plan to keep Asian carp, and other invaders, from passing from one basin to the next.