U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation to help fight the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota's waterways. The legislation would kick-start the process to consider closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to help stop the spread of the invasive species, as well as require immediate closure if Asian carp are found. In addition, the bill would direct federal agencies to partner with Minnesota on efforts to root out infestations and prevent the spread of Asian carp in the state's rivers. Klobuchar authored the bill in the Senate and Ellison authored the bill in the House of Representatives. The legislation is supported by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
"Asian carp not only pose a serious threat to Minnesota's environment, they also threaten the recreation and fishing industries that play a key role in the state's economy," Klobuchar said. "We must do everything we can to stop the further spread of this invasive species into our lakes and rivers, and this legislation will help the state take action to protect Minnesota's waterways."
"The spread of Asian Carp in Minnesota's waterways would be disastrous for Minnesota's fishing and boating industries, which rely on healthy waterways and contribute billions to our economy," said Sen. Franken. "I am pushing this legislation because it will help get critical plans and support in place to control and prevent the invasion of Asian carp in our state."
"Fishing and boating are an essential part of Minnesota's history, heritage, and culture," said Ellison. "They are also a vital part of our economy. If invasive carp continue to travel upstream, the effect on our recreational economy would be devastating and one of our state's most important assets will be lost. Minnesotans rely on us to take action, and I will keep fighting in this Congress to stop the spread of invasive carp into our waterways."
"Asian carp are not only a direct threat to our ecosystem of more than 158 species of fish, but also to Minnesota's vibrant tourism and recreation industry, and the thousands of Minnesotans whose livelihoods depend on our lakes, rivers, and streams," said Rep. Paulsen. "This legislation will give our state additional tools in the fight against the spread of this invasive species, and ensure the continued health of Minnesota's waterways."
"Minnesota is home to pristine rivers and lakes that folks use year-round to fish, relax, or make their living and the spread of Asian Carp poses a serious threat to not only our quality of life, but our pocketbooks as well," said Walz.
"Few other areas in our nation are as under assault from invasive water species as is Minnesota," said Nolan. "For the sake of our tourist industry, our outdoor sports and recreation industries and the jobs and pleasures they provide, we must take all reasonable steps to keep the Asian Carp away from our lakes and rivers."
The Upper Mississippi Conservation and River Protection Act (Upper Mississippi CARP Act) requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct feasibility studies on both the temporary and permanent closing of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock within six months and a year of the bill becoming law respectively. The study focusing on the permanent closing of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock also examines the possibility of closing of Lock and Dam No. 1. The studies would also examine the possibility of using other control methods, such as modifying lock operations and alternative barriers, to stop the spread of Asian carp. The bill would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock based on the findings of these feasibility studies. In addition, the bill would require the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to be closed in the event that Asian carp are found in certain areas closer to the dam until appropriate control measures can be put in place. The bill also creates a process for the Department of the Interior to petition the Army Corps if Asian carp are found above the trigger points outlined in the bill.
The bill also calls for increased interagency cooperation to help root out infestations and prevent the spread Asian carp in Minnesota's waterways. Specifically, the bill directs the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) at the White House to incorporate the Upper Mississippi River, the Minnesota River, and the St. Croix River into the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework. It would also encourage various government agencies to cooperate with states and local non-profits to research technologies to disrupt the breeding cycle of Asian carp and to remove Asian carp from areas they currently infest.
In addition to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the legislation is supported by Anglers for Habitat, Clean Water Action -- Minnesota, Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Mississippi River, FM Walleyes Unlimited, Inc., Izaak Walton League of America -- MN Division, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations (MN COLA), Minnesota Conservation Federation, Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, Minnesota Trout Unlimited, Mississippi River Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation and Audubon Minnesota, and New Ulm Area Sport Fisherman.